Is Yellow the New Orange? The Transnational Phenomenon of Female Prison Dramas

  • Julia Echeverría-Domingo


When Vis a vis (Locked Up) first aired in Spain in 2015, the comparisons with Orange Is the New Black were inevitable. Both presented naïve lookalike female protagonists forced to leave their well-off lives for a life behind bars. Both protagonists initiated similar journeys of transformation into tougher women. Both series explored issues of homosexuality, race, class, gender, sexual harassment, and criminality. Yet, the Spanish show offers a darker, more violent tone and a thrilleresque narrative that has forged its own set of cult followers. This chapter aims to analyze Vis a vis as an instance of the popular quarantine genre and, in particular, of the women-in-prison subgenre. Its formal and narrative quality, distancing itself from regular Spanish television, situates it as an example of the higher standards that the golden age of US television and its wider reception through digital platforms like Netflix have set on local products. This chapter intends to examine the growing standardization of television, both in terms of subject matter, style, and execution, by focusing specifically on the prison genre and on the Spanish context. Vis a vis exemplifies this tendency while retaining some of its local flavor as it attempts to find a voice of its own.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Echeverría-Domingo
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ZaragozaSaragossaSpain

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