Orange Is The New Black returned with a bang this week, and if you’re like me, you’ve already binge watched the entire season and are mourning the fact that there is an entire year to wait until the next one.
If however, you’re a stronger person than me and you’re watching the series in a healthier way, fear not, because this review is going to be fairly vague and spoiler free.
The first episode, entitled “Mother’s Day”, shows the inmates and their children together in Litchfield at an organised meet up.
The theme of mothers and daughters continues throughout the series, with Dayanara and Aleida’s complicated relationship being explored in more depth, and flashbacks being centred on the inmates’ childhoods.
These personal flashbacks allow us to see what made the characters who they are, and subsequently their coldness, boldness, pride, sorrow or perceived craziness makes more sense to us.
Because of these emotionally manipulative flashbacks, we find ourselves having empathy for characters we previously despised.
Whereas due to the stupid decisions, reckless actions or downright evilness committed by certain characters in this season, we find ourselves almost hating characters we previously loved.
Piper and Alex’s relationship is as tumultuous as in previous seasons, but what used to arguably be the main plot of the show falls by the wayside as we get more involved in the lives of the other inmates.
Big Boo, Pennsatucky, and Norma are among the smaller characters who get bigger parts in this season- Norma gets a whole weird and wonderful storyline developed around her as a ‘spiritual leader’ bordering on a cult icon within the prison.
Orange Is The New Black continues to portray prison life in such a way that sometimes you find yourself thinking “prison looks like a fun place where I would meet cool friends”, before something awful happens to give you a harsh reminder that these women are not having fun. They’re being punished, the system is corrupt and they’re suffering serious injustices with no one to turn to.
OITNB is known for its inclusiveness and diversity, and continues tackling important contemporary issues such as rape, homophobia and transphobia.
Pennsatucky’s jarring and heart breaking childhood flashbacks show the ‘cycle’ of deprivation and suggest that some children are born without a chance of a happy life.
Sophia’s narrative depicts the real danger that Trans women are in every day of their lives- and while some may claim that Sophia’s story is exaggerated, the actress who plays her (the wonderful Laverne Cox) has recently come out and said that she never truly feels safe being who she is.
The show forces the audience to unwittingly gain an understanding and empathy of serious issues that real people are suffering from.
OITNB is bleak at times, but has genuine laugh-out-loud moments that keep the tone of the series hopeful- which is all the women in the show have to keep them going.
The series ends on one of its infamous cliff hangers, and with season 4 already confirmed, it is likely that this show has enough twists and turns left in it to continue for a long time.