OITNB’s Jenji Kohan: ‘I’d be far richer if I’d stayed on Friends’

She worked on TV’s biggest hits – then revolutionised the way we all consume it with Orange Is the New Black. Jenji Kohan talks binge-watching, Love Island … and giving Joey VD

Deep into the new and final season of Orange Is the New Black, the groundbreaking Netflix show about life in a women’s prison, a character slumps in front of her TV, engrossed in Love Island. “I got obsessed with it,” explains Jenji Kohan, the woman who has been at the helm of OITNB for the last six years. “A friend who is British introduced it to my life last year, and I got unhealthily involved.” And so she wrote it into her series, giving her obsession to one of the characters, where it appears in the background like a branded water bottle.

Kohan does very few interviews – “I chose to be a writer for a reason. I don’t particularly want to be in front of the camera, so to speak” – but she is funny, dry-witted and very frank. So much so that she ends our conversation with a wistful: “I hope I didn’t say stupid things that will bite me in the ass later.”

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