Netflix, we need to talk about Orange Is The New Black

Dear Netflix,

We don’t need to tell you how important representation is, as entertainment platforms go, you’re usually pretty awesome at producing content that celebrates diversity and raises consciousness. But we really have to talk about your portrayal of Cal and Neri encouraging their baby to poo in a sink in the last series of Orange Is The New Black.

Could it be? Is this what we’ve been dreaming of? A mainstream television show finally representing parents who practise baby pottying? An opportunity to raise awareness of Elimination Communication to millions of parents around the world? To demonstrate how much better it is for babies, for parents, for the environment?

Well, no.

Instead, we get the same old misunderstanding, misinformation, sensationalist click-bait that we are used to being given by mainstream media. And we are so tired of it. We are shown parents in the midst of new-baby crisis incorrectly and unhygienically positioning their baby over a kitchen sink and encouraging the baby to poo at their command. In portraying Baby Pottying this way, Netflix renders it as weird, impossible and unrealistic to modern parents. The truth could not be further from this. Done correctly, baby pottying (formally known as ‘Elimination Communication’) is an amazing, connecting and forward-thinking parenting practice that it is, both sensible, possible and above all, sticks a big finger up at nappy giants who are so far doing nothing more than wrecking the planet our future babies will have to inhabit and conning parents into spending a fortune on their products.

Was it unreasonable of us to hope that a show that has been so real about so many issues facing such an astoundingly wide range of women – different ages, races, religions, gender presentations, sexual orientations, body types, political beliefs, mental states, levels of education – a show that portrayed these women as fascinatingly complex, explained their choices or lack of choices and revealed the devastating impact that their choices or circumstances would get this right? We don’t think so. We’ve seen be better than this.

It’s so frustrating that this otherwise groundbreaking show didn’t take this amazing opportunity to be real about Elimination Communication – something 50% of parents around the world practise, instead of using it as a punchline.

Cal and Neri are sleep deprived, stressed, frantically Googling what to do and yes – this will sound familiar to most parents I’m sure, but for those who haven’t yet seen it, or don’t watch Orange Is The New Black, Cal and Neri portray a very alternative hippie couple, living a zero-waste life and fuelling their car with vegetable oil which automatically frames their choice to practise Elimination Communication as something extreme. Something that other parents might find it hard to relate to and will therefore not aspire to.

This is such a shame when the reality is that helping a baby use a potty, at least some of the time, represents one of the best choices parents can make for their baby, their finances and of course the environment.

In a world where we have a few scant years to try to restore the cumulative damage that parenting choices like disposable nappies and baby wipes have contributed to, having a couple representing how easy (and hygienic) it is to potty your baby (once you know what you’re doing) would do every bit as much good as highlighting the inequalities that the other characters in the show face.

We expected better from you Netflix.

You can learn more about baby pottying by buying my new multimedia eGuide.

2 thoughts on “Netflix, we need to talk about Orange Is The New Black

  1. Clairer says:

    Well said! I totally agree. As an EC mum in the UK I was horrified with the ‘methods’ used by Cal and Neri, pleased in a way to see EC being given a vague ‘nod’ but frustrated that everything about the way they tried was wrong and pushed parents away from wanting to try, rather than intriguing them and presenting an opportunity to learn about EC.

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