If Orange Is the New Black, What Is the New Orange?


Have you binge-watched the second season of Orange Is the New Black yet?  (We haven’t had a chance to– don’t spoil it for us!)  If it’s anything like Season One, though, we know we’re going to love it.  And we have no idea how Piper is going to get out of that incident in the finale.

What we want to talk about today is a more wide-ranging problem introduced by the series title.  If orange is the new black, then… well… what is the new orange?


One option would be to look to the spectrum for guidance.  For most people, the visible light spectrum ranges from about 700 nm on the low side (red) to about 390 nm on the high side (violet).  Light wavelengths beyond this range are invisible, and therefore could be said to be “black.”  Thus, a spectral shift would have taken place.  If we take orange to be at about 600 nm, we could shift it down by 150 nm to make it infrared or up by about 250 nm to make it ultraviolet.

If we shift down by 150 nm, orange is the new black (infrared), and red is even blacker than black.  Yellow becomes the new red, green the new orange, blue the new yellow, and violet the new green.

Going the other way around is a little more confusing.  If we shift up, orange is the new black (ultraviolet), red becomes the new violet, and infrared becomes basically everything else.  On the other hand, yellow, green, blue, and violet become ultraviolet, and ultraviolet becomes ultra-ultra-ultraviolet, which may or may not end up bombarding someone with X-rays.


Other problems with this analysis involve the way we’re shifting.  We used a linear shift instead of looking at the proportional increase or decrease in wavelength, and… you know, get off our backs.  It’s been a long time since high school physics.  We’re just spitballing.


The color wheel is much less helpful in this discussion.  Pigments gain their color based on what colors they reflect, and if orange is the new black, we’re guessing everything else would have to be the new black as well.  The above diagram will probably do us more good as a summoning circle than anything else.

Our last thought is to look into the symbolic meanings of colors, and we’ve got a few ideas for this one.

Orange is the new black.

As per the series title.

Black is the new white.

The good guys never wear white anymore, a trend we believe began in Return of the Jedi.

White is the new red.

Look at the Republican Party.  Prrreeeetty white.

Red is the new blue.

Look at the rightward shift of the Democratic Party.

Blue is the new violet.

LGBTQ activism is the only new progress we’re making on the left.  Not a bad thing in and of itself, but it seems to be the case.

Violet is the new green.

Oh, and maybe some progress with marijuana.

Green is the new orange.

Though there are still way too many stoners behind bars, and a disproportionate number of those wearing orange are, well… black.  Looks like we went full circle on this one.

Screw yellow.

We don’t really like yellow anyway.


My name is Adam, and I want you to be my Eve.

ADAM WEISHAUPT is a Professor of Law at the University of Ingolstadt.  His hobbies include rationalism, masonry, and opposition to Kantian idealism.

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