Orange Is The New Black Season 7

In teaching us about life behind bars, OITNB taught us how to be human.

I dropped this show after that season where everything got too ridiculous. I think it was season 4 or 5, you know, the one where they showed the inmates rioting after one of their friends is murdered by a guard. I understand the importance of showing police brutality, especially against women of color, but it didn’t have to last all 10 episodes. So I dropped it.

I played as background noise watched the remaining seasons with little interest and only when I had nothing better to do. For reference, I once watched the washing machine do its thing for a good 20 minutes before deciding to start another episode, so the bar was really low.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised when the 7th and final season hooked me after a couple of episodes. It’s always refreshing when the show focuses on the supporting characters, their stories, and their personal struggles, as opposed to centering the narrative around Piper, who continues being the worst character in the show.

OITNB leveraged current political and societal topics to develop this season’s stories. The two central plots revolved around illegal immigration and, to a lesser extent, the hardships of adjusting to life after being released from prison. As always, these subjects were approached from the inmates’ perspective, making the outcomes poignant and emotional.

The show did not hold back when it had to take a stance on various topics such as abortion, immigration, and racism. OITNB‘s is very evidently targeting Democrats, and also very aware of what drives engagement on social media platforms (ie. that particular scene with children in court).

We saw many examples of the unjust treatment and borderline cruelty to which illegal immigrants are victims of, as well as the almost sadistic pleasure the ICE agents get from it. We were exposed to the dangers of crossing the border, the heartbreaking reality of families being torn apart, the lack of legal resources for these people, the resentment second generation immigrants of Hispanic origins felt towards the illegal aliens for tarnishing the image of their demographic group as a whole, the lack of empathy of a judicial system that will send these immigrants back to their home countries without regard to their personal safety, no matter if they are adults or if they aren’t old enough to even know what a lawyer is.

As much of a sob story as the above sounds, this is the reality of America today, and I’m happy OITNB gave these people a voice and an opportunity to present themselves not as criminals, but as human beings in search of a better life.

I appreciate the writers’ decision of sending the characters off in realistic ways rather than aiming for a happily ever after ending. OITNB was never a show about the pursuit of happiness, it was about destigmatizing the people behind bars and making us, the viewers, realize that maybe, just maybe, it’s not all black and white.

Throughout these seven years, we saw women who were convicted for murder, robbery, drug possession, and a long list of other crimes, but we also saw the reasons behind these crimes. We witnessed women who feared for their own and their families’ safety, women who struggled with poverty, mental health, and the power dynamics of domestic violence, women who needed to escape the struggles of their everyday life, and whose choices led to their arrest. In creating this show, OITNB achieved the unthinkable: it made the convicts real, and most importantly, it made them humans.

Rating 4 / 5
Pros: Less screen time for Piper and more for supporting characters, representation of current events, and believable endings for each of the characters.
Cons: Piper making it all about herself, again. Also, what the fuck was wrong with the female guard? Seriously.

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