The award-winning web series Orange Juice in Bishoop's Garden pushes the envelope of edgy teen drama

There aren’t many non-reality web series that manage to be creatively, critically and commercially successful, but the teen drama Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden definitely achieves the trifecta.

Created and directed by filmmaker Otessa Ghadar, Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden first began in 2008 as part of Ghadar’s Master of Fine Arts thesis for the graduate film studies program at Columbia University. Revolving around a group of teenagers growing up in Washington, D.C., in the 1990s (much as Ghadar herself did), the series — now in its fifth season — regularly inspires comparisons to other teen-driven dramas, ranging from the melodramatics of Degrassi to the more reality-inspired goings-on of Skins.

The similarities have always been there, to be sure, but they have been particularly pronounced in recent seasons as the original cast has been supplanted with new teenagers.

In addition, the series’ setting in the ’90s has added a unique twist to its evolution, providing the opportunity to watch the changes in the pop-culture landscape (the grunge movement gives way to the ska revival), as well as reminding viewers about the comparatively limited technology of the era (forget texts and voicemails, think phone calls and answering-machine messages).

As part of web TV network KoldCast, Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden is viewable in more than 130 countries and was recognized both for its storylines and its cinematography by the L.A. Web Series Festival in 2011.

In particular, an ongoing lesbian relationship between lead characters Sarah (Ellen Winter) and Gwen (Katie Foster) has received praise from several websites, including AfterEllen and SheWired, for the accuracy of its portrayal.

In addition to the consistency of its dramatic content, much of the series’ success can be attributed to its significant social networking presence, which includes an official website, blog, Twitter account, Facebook page and message forum.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.