As an avid tv show watcher I usually focus on some elements which make me decide if a tv show is worth my time or not. After the plot and the characters (and their style sometimes) there are the opening credits, a sort of business card of the show itself. I hate when there are no opening credits and I highly enjoy them when they’re good. This is the case of the credits of Pretty Little Liars and Ripper Street, for example: they beautifully introduce each episode re-working the main theme of the show and its imagery. I’ve recently binge-watched the first season of the new it show – Jenji Kohan’s Orange Is the New Black, based on a novel by Piper Kerman – and its opening credits have immediately entered my favourite list. Regina Spektor wrote and sang the theme You’ve Got Time (whose lyrics directly refer to the story told by the show), while the visuals were designed by Thomas Cobb Group, referencing yet again to the show in a different way.
One of the peaks of Orange Is the New Black is the diversity of the stories told and of its protagonists, who not only have different backgrounds, levels of education, ethnicities and differ from a physical point of view, too. None of the actresses acting in the show are in the opening credits , but Kohan wanted to keep a high level of authenticity nonetheless. For this reason, all the women portrayed by Michael Trim and Thomas Cobb in New York and Los Angeles were previously incarcerated, just like the protagonists of the show. Writing a show without taking a dip into the wide sea of stereotypes is very hard but Kohan did her best to steer clear from it, and this approach is mirrored by the credits, too. Those we see (their eyes and mouths, to be precise) are not the classic airbrushed women we usually see on tv but are portrayed in all their flaws – wrinkles, undereye bags, skin marks, moles, acne scars and clogged pores. God knows if we need such a plausible portrayal of women on tv!
As a visually-obsessed blogger, it’s easy to see why the opening credits have had such an appeal on me. The point is that I’m a make-up addict, too, so I screencapped all the sequence and kept some shots only. The concept behind the credits is interesting and thoroughly relevant, but I’m a vain girl, so here is a breakdown of all the shots portraying a woman sporting black eyeliner, mascara or eyepencil .
Painted-on eyebrows, silvery eyeshadow and double crease effect with black eyepencil, black eyeliner on the upper lashline, black eyepencil on the lower lashline and in the waterline, black mascara on upper and lower lashes.
Seeing all these diverse beauties one after the other is a unique experience, which sounds like a new direction which I hope will be followed by other tv shows. While watching the 13 episodes of OITNB’s first season, I never skipped the credits but watched them carefully, so as to catch all the details of each portrait, especially those featuring make-up. My concern was about eyeliner and the question on my mind was: “What will black eyeliner look on me when I’m an old and wrinkled lady?”. Judging by how the middle-aged women in the credits proudly sport thick black lines on their upper lashlines, I guess I will be able to wear it for many years to come.
Before closing, just a note about the title. If you’ve watched the show you’ll probably remember Alex Vause (Laura Prepon) saying something about her habit of wearing black eyeliner. While looking for the exact quote, I found another quote (from Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan) which I found perfect for this post. Talk about serendipity!
 Piper Kerman appears in the credits: she’s the blue-eyed woman blinking at the 1:02 mark.
 In 2009 (yes, 4 years ago) I wrote a post about eyeliner because it’s an item which holds a special place in my make-up stash.