As soon as it hit December, I restarted my Netflix subscription, because there’s no way I was going to miss out on all those cheesy Christmas movies. However, the bonus alongside festive treats is catching up on the big series’ that were released over the last six months that I have fallen behind on. Starting with the final ever series of Orange is the New Black, bringing to a close the show that was one of the OG Netflix Originals.
OITNB is one of those shows that has been something of a rollercoaster, some really great episodes and seasons followed by some less good stuff. Some light and frothy prison japes alongside some really dark and moving moments. It was always going to be difficult to bring this series to a show because the mere concept of it is that people keep on being put into prison and life goes on whether you like it or not.
As always, one of the bigger criticisms of the final series is the emphasis on Piper’s story. I never really minded before, because she is the reason the show exists, our way into the prison in the first place, so it was fine to keep hearing from her. But I did think it jarred a little on the final episodes. They had done a relatively good job showing how difficult it is to leave prison and get your life back on track even with white privilege but then Piper made up with her father, met a rich lady and had a nice fling, and then moved cities to be with her lover. It all seemed to disappear and life was fine again without too much trouble.
The more interesting stories, quite rightly, were Taystee finding a glimmer of hope in the darkness, of Cindy making the smallest steps to redemption with her family, Nicholls stepping up, and Blanca who followed her heart. These offset by the dark moments – twisting your ankle in the desert, Red’s very sad diagnosis, and oof. Tiffany Doggett. I can’t even think about it, it hurts too much.
So, overall, it was a good series, and certainly not the worst of it’s seven-series run. But was it actually satisfying? I don’t know. I think it did the best it can do with such a wonderful sprawling cast, and the fact that there never could be a satisfying ending – not for everybody and perhaps not at all. I’m so glad this show existed though, for all it being a fictional prison with heightened elements here and there, it still highlighted prison life, corrupt guards, and the for-profit takeovers that do no good at all. It may not have been perfect, but the show gave us some unforgettable characters, and raised the profile of the help the prison system needs. Which is a good enough legacy for anyone.