Hey 3.5 readers.
I don’t have time to give this season the in-depth review it deserves, so I’ll try to break it down quickly.
I felt the first couple seasons were an interesting look into prison life. Hollywood tends to really ham up prison portrayals – i.e. that classic scene where the main character enters the joint for the first time and the prisoners throw rain garbage and flaming pieces of whatever down upon him out of their cells.
While I’m sure violence is an ever present threat in prisons (and is portrayed a lot on this show) the show gave an aspect that other shows about the clink rarely showed, i.e., that it’s all one great big glorified high school for adults, complete with social cliques, winners, losers, a great big fishbowl where everyone is in everyone else’s business and the slightest bit of gossip can wreak all kinds of havoc.
I felt in later seasons, the show started to jump the shark as the more outrageous the shenanigans got. At times, some of the tomfoolery seemed unlikely and increasingly far fetched.
But this last season really brought the series home.
Here, the OITNB girls, or a segment of them anyway, end up in the “max” prison, following a riot that goes bad. Alas, they find themselves as pawns in the neverending war between two geriatric sisters with a longstanding grudge that has existed since the 1980s.
Lots of emotion, sadness, all sorts of bad things happen.
If the showrunners wanted to, they could probably end the series here. Piper goes home and assumedly, like the real Piper she was based on, will write a book about her time in the can.
Vause looks like she will atone for her sin of putting Piper in prison in the first place – then again, maybe not as it looks like the boss she had to swear allegiance to in order to get Piper off the hook is no longer around.
Taystee goes down for a crime she didn’t commit but is the poster child for how the system swallows poor young African Americans up.
Black Cindy will forever want to do the right thing, be unable to do the right thing, but always feel guilty for not doing the right thing.
I could go on and on, there are so many characters that I dont think it’s possible for all of their storylines to be resolved (other than most of them will be in the slammer for a long time) I think overall, this season finale brought home a lot of stuff for the main members of the ensemble.
I’ve read that there will be a season 7. I assume this will be where Piper the ex-inmate becomes Piper the author. Perhaps the writers will figure out a way to get Taystee out of the fix she is in.
At times, the show goes overboard and over the top. Sometimes I think it is too liberal as many of the women are portrayed as poor little birds who couldn’t help but be there. Many of the back stories show people who started out somewhat ok, then just made one bad choice and ended up in jail. Flaca, for example, sold colored pieces of paper, told kids it was acid to make a buck, only to be charged when a classmate was dumb enough to believe he was tripping when he wasn’t and kill himself.
But then at other times, the show will get real…sometimes too real…the backstory scene where we learn what the 1980s bitties did to get locked up is too scary for words.
Guards are often portrayed as roid addled, power tripping losers but then we also see how they suffer behind the scenes too.
The show could end here and be a rare show that ties up all the ends but it sounds like it has at least another season left. The writers will have to keep towing that difficult to balance light between humor and abject horror, never going too far into one side or the other.