Yes, we can: 10 shows that challenge America to be better

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Orange Is the New Black

What it’s about: Set in a minimum security women’s prison in Upstate New York, Orange Is the New Black is a sprawling series that sees ladies from all walks of life (barely) co-existing in one of the United States’ largest and most ignored institutions. OITNB delves into the women’s backstories, their misdeeds and the relationships they forge within Litchfield’s walls.

What it’s fighting for: First and foremost, OITNB is passionate call-to-action on the state of American prisons, as well as the country’s rate of incarceration. (The U.S. imprisons more people than any other nation, yet the condition of its facilities is deplorable.) Beginning in the third season, the show also depicts the horrors that ensue when prisons are privatized — a storyline that took on even more significance once Trump appointed Jeff Sessions.

While prison is its focus, OITNB is also about the intersectionality of all sorts of facets of American life — race, gender, LGBTQ issues, class, income inequality, education, immigration, health care — and how they play out in the very broken criminal justice system. Many of the series’ characters (Taystee, Daya, Aleida, Maria) had little to no opportunity in their pre-prison lives: dealing drugs was how they survived. Sophia started stealing credit card information because it was the only way she could afford gender-reassignment surgery. Other characters (Suzanne, Lorna, Lolly) would benefit more from adequate mental health treatment than from incarceration.

Overall, Orange Is the New Black advocates for our country to provide better treatment and support to all its citizens. Doing so would prevent future crimes from occurring and give much-needed dignity to those who have already been convicted.

Where to watch: Seasons 1-5 are streaming on Netflix. Season 6 premieres July 27.