Despite controversy, will ‘Orange is the New Black’ break out at Golden Globes?

The Golden Globes are suckers for shiny new toys, and nothing that aired in 2013 is shinier and newer than Netflix’s red-hot prison dramedy “Orange is the New Black.” However, the show generated a bit of controversy in recent weeks following news of its decision to enter into the Globes’ comedy categories instead of the drama races.

After Gold Derby broke the news that “Orange” would be competing as a comedy, some wags began raising the question of whether Netflix was committing category fraud. (See our editors and users discuss the controversy in the video below, starting at the 37:30 mark.)

On the surface, “Orange” is an hour-long character-driven series along the lines of “Lost” that reveals secrets about the characters through flashbacks showing what their lives were like before they were sent to prison. In addition, most of the prison scenes seem incredibly realistic and devoid of any sense of levity.

My take? Sure, there aren’t a ton of laughs in the prison setting, but the show is quirky and outrageous enough — like “Ally McBeal” or “Desperate Housewives” — to just barely squeak by in the comedy field. It also has a much better shot at winning awards in the less-competitive comedy races than it would going against drama titans like “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones” and “House of Cards.”

For the uninitiated, this Netflix original series stars Taylor Schilling as a white collar criminal who gets sent to a women’s prison and Jason Biggs as her fiance who slowly begins to learn the truth about the woman he loves. Among the enormous prison cast are Laura Prepon as Schilling’s former lesbian lover, Kate Mulgrew as the inmate cook, Natasha Lyonne as a friendly former drug addict and Taryn Manning as a crazy Bible thumper.

The first season premiered all 13 episodes on July 11, 2013 and attracted a score of 79 at Metacritic. Netflix later announced that the ratings for “Orange” out-performed its much buzzier in-house shows like “Arrested Development” and “House of Cards,” which bodes well for this fish-out-of-water series heading into awards season.

How well “Orange” performs at the Golden Globes may help determine its overall awards potential. In the past, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association helped put certain shows on Emmy’s radar — including “Homeland,” “Glee,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Ally McBeal” — that may have been overlooked otherwise in the ever-expanding world of quality television.

While most of Gold Derby’s editors and users predict “Orange is the New Black” will be nominated at the Golden Globes as Best TV Comedy Series, four editors in particular — Marcus Dixon, Rob Licuria, Daniel Montgomery and Matt Noble — think it will actually win.

Last year’s five nominees in this category were “Girls,” “The Big Bang Theory,” Episodes,” “Modern Family” and “Smash.” Since “Episodes” took this year off and “Smash’s” second season was mostly deemed a disaster, there are two potential open slots in the TV Comedy Series race. Almost certain to be back are 2012 winner “Girls” and 2011 champion “Modern Family,” along with ratings juggernaut “The Big Bang Theory.”

Schilling also has a real chance of breaking into the tough TV Comedy Actress race according to our editors and users. There’s at least one position available because Tina Fey (“30 Rock“) is not eligible. The other four nominees from last year are all looking to return, including Zooey Deschanel (“New Girl“), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep“), Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation“) and eventual winner Lena Dunham (“Girls”).

Do you think “Orange is the New Black” has what it takes to break out at the Golden Globes despite the controversy? Sound off in the comments section below!

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