Series 5 of Orange Is The New Black returned last Friday. It goes without saying, but I binged the lot in two days. But hey, that’s my job.
At the end of last season, we left TV’s favourite felons holding a guard at gunpoint and the prison was about to descend into chaos. Season 5 is set across the following 48 hours, so I was pretty much watching it unfold in real time. The ladies have taken over Litchfield and they’re angry. Rightfully so. Even I’m still reeling from the death of Poussey.
We get to see the characters really blossom this time round as anarchy takes over. Five series in and it still hasn’t lost its fire. Red is going stir crazy and forms an unlikely partnership to seek revenge, we also get to see a little more of her backstory in Soviet Russia. The Latinas are ruling the roost but in-fighting and treachery means their grip over power is unlikely to last as they are torn between their lives in Litchfield and the outside world. Meanwhile, to keep themselves occupied, the Aryans form an uneasy alliance to set up a coffee shop, complete with an unmissable and hilarious open-mic night.
Angie and Leanne go off on their own decadent little adventures and at one point force the guards to perform in a Marat/Sade style talent show, but their personal epiphanies at the end (with Leanne with her head in a bucket of bleach) come as a touching salvation for the pair. Alex inadvertently sets up her own cult of nihilism out on the field and Frieda comes into her own and reveals a mysterious part of the prison no one knew was there. At points the over-arching story gets a little lost – mostly because of the successive timeline of the narrative – and some of the more light-hearted scenes are borderline space-fillers. But that doesn’t detract from how brilliant and – dare I say it – powerful the show has consistently managed to be, even five seasons later.
Orange is the New #BlackLivesMatter. The message behind this series is more poignant than ever. True to form, this season explores some important and timely themes facing the most down-trodden members of our society. As a cis-gender white male, it is a well-deserved kick to the privilege. Mental illness, motherhood, race and all manner of society’s dirty secrets are laid bare. And it is beautiful.
- Laverne Cox’s outstanding performance as the transgender inmate Sophia and everything she stands for.
- Uzo Aduba as Crazy Eyes, whose scenes absolutely broke me.
- The fierce Latina ladies.
- Poussey is dead.
- I’m just so sick of Piper’s shit. I still haven’t forgiven her for what she did to Ruby Rose.
- Piscatella and his rather one-dimensional backstory (Although Brad William Henke is fantastic).
Orange is the New Black is out now on Netflix.