The following contains spoilers for Orange is the New Black season four and five.
Netflix has become known for their original series. With shows like House of Cards to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, there is really something for everyone when they log into their Netflix accounts. Orange is the New Black was one of the early series that was released on the streaming service and now the fifth season has been released in the classic binge-watching style that audiences have to know and love.
Orange is the New Black can be polarizing for fans. The show has had tremendous highs and low moments throughout. The past two seasons had been disappointing compared to the aggressive start that kicked off this series. Season four tended to draw out storylines, lackluster villain motivations and bloated character development. It wasn’t until the end season four that the show returned to form.
The most impactful moment of the fourth season was the death of Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley). A correctional guard who suffocates her unknowingly murdered Poussey in front of the other inmates. The moment single-handily sets the course for season five and changes everything for the inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary.
Season five or Orange is completely unique and altered compared to its predecessors. The entire season takes places within an estimated 72 hours. Throughout this season we see the aftermath of Washington’s death, which results in an unwieldy prison riot. While the 72-hour timeframe might throw audiences off at first, stick with it. The second-half of this season delivers remarkably.
The strengths of season five are that the show wasn’t afraid to slow down and focus on this shorter timeframe. This allows audiences to explore the characters in a pressure-cooker situation. What will these women do when they are pushed to the limit and are allowed to take back a sense of freedom? The riot allows our characters to express more of themselves, be it with clothing or their personalities; this is a new look into Litchfield. The inmates are now fully in charge.
Orange is a master’s class in ensemble acting but this season has a few clear standouts. Taystee (Danielle Brooks), Dascha Polanco (Dayanara Diaz) and Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) give everything they have to their characters. If Danielle Brooks weren’t recognized for her work this season with an Emmy nomination, it would be a disgrace.
This series has become known for pushing boundaries when it comes to racial stereotypes. Race is addressed head-on throughout this season in a way that feels authentic, aggressive and honest. Orange doesn’t sugarcoat the current reality we’re all living in.
Season five of Orange tasks risks with characters, and storytelling as a whole. The show takes on real topics and explores these issues through the eyes of prisoners. This season shows that when you take risks, even five seasons in, the payoff can be remarkable and trailblazing. Season five of Orange is the show that audiences originally fell in love with.