How great storytelling can trigger emotions

Written by Paul Stallard


I must confess that I am a Netflix addict.

For some in our PR agency, the TV highlight of this summer will have been the FIFA World Cup. I however, have been eagerly awaiting the release of Orange is the New Black’s sixth season, which ended last season with a prison riot.

Orange is the New Black is a Netflix original which follows Piper Chapman, a privileged PR executive, as she is sent to Litchfield Penitentiary to begin her prison sentence for money laundering. The show is based on the book Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman.

The show is one of Netflix’s most successful shows; its fourth season was binge-watched by 6.7 million viewers in its opening weekend.

Why has the show been so successful?

The cast is diverse and dominated by female characters which is a rare occurrence in the TV and film industry. In a 2017 study, 68% of the programs included featured casts with more male than female characters. Of this 32% of women, Latinas accounted for a mere 5%, 7% were Asian, and 21% were black.

The show’s method of storytelling is engaging, there are so many main characters each with their own backstory. The show is sometimes hilarious, sometimes sad, and sometimes terrifying, which means that there is a storyline for everyone and it is very easy to get attached to characters.

The method of slowly trickling the details of each character’s crime is ingenious. Before that point, I know that I have forgotten that they are criminals as they have been humanised so much that I empathise with them.

At Berkeley, we believe in the power of storytelling. Sometimes it takes making an emotional impact with readers to engage them.

Have I sold it to you? Tune in today. You won’t regret it.