The Women of Jenji Kohan: A Collection of Essays

Fayetteville Mafia. Mar. 2022. 224p. ed. by Scarlett Harris. ISBN 9781949024302. pap. $14.99. TV
Jenji Kohan has produced several important television series in the past 15 years, including Weeds, Orange Is the New Black, GLOW, and Teenage Bounty Hunters, the subjects of cultural critic Harris’s collection. These essays are described as analyses of iconic female characters of four series “created” by Kohan, but of those four she created only Weeds and Orange; she has executive producer credits for the others. The essays are a mixed bag, with standout pieces by Shane Thomas, Rebecca Bodenheimer, and Dani Bethea, but most of the pieces deal not with the characters of the shows but rather with the shows’ cultural relevance or impact on the contributors. The texts are engaging, but the volume feels unfinished. Each essay also comes with a content warning, alerting readers to racism, homophobia, sexual assault, and other violence. However, most readers will likely be fans of the shows in question and thus would assume that those topics might appear. The repeated warnings are actually a distraction, and a single content note at the beginning of the book would have been more effective.
VERDICT A brief, unique tribute to the impact of Kohan’s work to date, but only for truly devoted fans.
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