‘Orange Is The New Black’ Season 4: Can Rapists Be Good People?

‘Orange Is The New Black’ Season 4: Can Rapists Be Good People?
Prison JoshuaDavisPhotography / Flickr CC

“Orange Is The New Black” season 4 poses a set of moral questions among its viewers: Can rape be committed by a “good” person?


Why do people seem to turn a blind eye when the crime is committed, particularly in the rape case of former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner? Is apologizing enough? Will anything be enough? “Orange Is The New Black” season 4’s James McMenamin ponders with us.

No other person better understands the psyche of a supposedly good man being drawn to the dark side than James McMenamin whose character, prison guard Charlie Coates befriends and then rapes inmate Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett (Taryn Manning).

Although the third season of “Orange Is The New Black” may have demonized Coates as the show’s big bad, season 4 provides the man an opportunity to atone for his sins, and sets him on a path of redemption.

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“The character (Coates) is three-dimensional, and all people are three-dimensional,” McMenamin told Buzzfeed News during a recent phone interview.

“It’s certainly easy to judge Charlie Coates based on this one facet,” he continued. “Frankly, I wouldn’t really want to have lunch with him myself, you know?”

“On some levels, I bet Charlie Coates is a nice guy. I bet — that’s as far as I’m willing to go,” he added.  “It’s tough to even talk about this sometimes. I portray a man who committed an assault.”

Toward the middle of “Orange Is the New Black” season 4, viewers saw a positive change in Coates, as he apologizes to Doggett for the sexual assault, saying if he could go back in time, “I would have treated you like a person, not like … a thing.”

However, McMenamin said that he is careful not to vilify Coates, lest he lose his ability to convincingly portray the gamut of emotions his character is experiencing as he grapples with a moral dilemma.

“If I judge the character as being evil or wrong, there’s nothing for me as an actor there to explore,” he reflected.

“But if I just say, ‘This is what the guy did, this is his action: His action is that he assaulted this woman,’ and I start to question why he did that, then there is value there,” McMenamin explained.

Although the characters in “Orange Is The New Black” season 4 such as Coates may be fictional, it seems that they also have real-life counterparts like athlete Brock Turner who has managed to polarize the public on the sensitive issue of rape.

In blog published in the Detroit Free Press, Allison Leotta called on society to take a good look at Turner, who despite his boy-next-day charms, should first and foremost be looked upon as a rapist.

“Ladies, take a good look at a photo of Brock Turner.  That’s the face of a rapist. Those big blue eyes, those perfect white teeth, that All-American smile. Don’t be fooled. That handsome swimming star raped an unconscious young woman behind a Dumpster at Stanford University,” Leotta wrote in her post.

“We think of rapists as strangers lurking in bushes. We warn our daughters not to walk home alone late at night and instead to get a nice male friend to escort them. But that nice male friend is far more likely to rape than anyone lurking in the shrubbery,” the lawyer pointed out in post.

With recent developments in “Orange Is The New Black” season 4 and the turn of events in the Turner trial, we, as viewers, are pushed to take sides and determine who the real good and bad guys are.

Read Also: ‘Orange is the New Black’ Season 4 Finale Spoilers: Major Character Dead, Litchfield Changed Forever