Everyone is talking about the latest season of "Orange is the New Black," and for good reason. It's presence affected me so much that I was drawn to develop this piece on its aspects for improvement, and how overall it didn't work. While many choices were made in terms of storytelling and character development, this once dedicated fan began to lose hope. Here is my reasoning why:
1. The time constraint doesn't pay off.
While shows should always be expected to make big changes creatively, this one doesn’t quite pan out. The only way it could have worked is if the season delivered with high pace drama and intensity all pent up in a bottle waiting to explode. Sadly, we get static and passive story lines that require a slow burn, and even slower end. Maybe if the riot had ended in episode six or seven we could have had the potential for this radical storytelling.
2. Clean house is needed for the newbies.
If we have to deal with new characters, at least make them worth a damn. They honestly weaken the show instead of providing a service to boost its quality. The only exception being Alison Abudullah who has been a beautiful addition to the cast and as a confidant with Taystee, Cindy, Janae, and Suzanne. But other than her, the newbies prove to be a hindrance to the show as initially suspected when introduced as they continue to take up screen. Get rid of these white supremacists and other unnamed characters and get back to the main characters (and core reason) we love to watch.
3. Flashbacks don’t add any emotional depth or real significance.
Once you change the form of your entire show, you can’t really go back. This made the flashbacks feel more forced than ever. In past, they had context giving background on how our characters got here. And if they weren’t doing that, then they were providing a glimpse into a telling part of a character undergoing a dilemma. These were rare this season feeling so stretched into how they had any presence being there in the first place to the point where they were wasting time, not adding to it.
4. Side characters are given too much screen time.
With such a large cast, there is not enough time for everyone. And rightfully so, when frankly some of the characters are more interesting than others. We wasted so much valuable time not on the big players as smaller characters took up way too much coverage. From Maritza and Flaca’s sickening self-obsessiveness to Leanne and Angie’s poor power trip, the whole business because nauseating real fast.
5. Main characters undeservingly become demoted.
As a result of side characters coming to the forefront, some of the beloved players got played out. Sophia was in this season as much as the last one which was practically nonexistent making her lack of appearance here extremely disappointing and her presence undervalued. And while Gina, Norma, and Yoga Jones are usually minor characters, their constant presence felt even more strained.
6. Stop focusing on the guards.
This is even worse than focusing on the newbies. At least they are prisoners, but seriously what is the point? We only care about the prisoners. The show has always been about focusing on these women with their pitfalls, weaknesses, and dreams for a better life. It doesn’t add anything to show that with these guards or warrant flashbacks with perhaps the only exception being for Piscatella of how he became so monstrous. Cindy Loohoo Sorority Queen was so pointless, and not at all entertaining.
7. Insipid and practically unwatchable plot lines in their purpose are unclear.
This should really just be the Pennsatucky section. To continue to see her abusive relationship with that dick guard and end it on a happy note with them living together is so sickening. And we’re really gonna have Maria turn out to be a heartless person with no loyalty to even her own tribe? The eye rollness factor of this entire season can be summed up in two words: Litchfield Idol.
8. It's ending is predictable, but the show’s future is questionable.
Supposing it's the journey that’s worthwhile and not the destination, the journey is never exciting enough to get there. It ends exactly as expected (not well) and while it’s left on some sort of a cliffhanger of when in fact the remaining stragglers get out, that inevitable ending also seems to be lacking excitement. It also leads to question what the show will be now, will it be us following these women to various different prisons? How on earth could that be possible?