01st Aug2019

‘Orange is the New Black: Season 7′ Review

by Chris Cummings

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Orange is the New Black has finally reached it’s final season, and that season dropped on Netflix just a few days ago. I’ve been a big fan of the show since day-one, and am conflicted about the chosen end to the show. On one hand I feel like there’s more story to tell, and losing one of your favourite shows is always a bummer, but on the other hand I feel like they’re ending it on their own terms, telling the stories they wished to tell, and bowing out while the hype, popularity and consumer admiration is still alive. I respect that.

Much like with every season prior, I jumped into Season 7 on the day it was released and had finished within three days. That’s how it’s always been with this show. It’s addictive, compelling, entertaining and, at times, ruthless. It keeps you watching by asking questions that need to be asked in modern society, by pointing at, and forcing you to think about, genuine issues, and by making you laugh, cry and grit your teeth angrily. Season 7 was no different in those senses, but it was different.

The prior seasons all lead up to the next in some way, but as this season progressed, with the knowledge it was the final season, you knew you were seeing the final chapters of many of these characters we’d spent time with. Seeing how many of them ended up, seeing how their lives turned out at the screen faded to orange in the final episode, was incredibly done. That is one of the real strain points of Orange is the New Black. The writing has always been fantastic, and the casting has never really missed the mark. The way the characters, flawed and broken, change, adapt and grow in front of our eyes has been something that has kept us fans returning year after year. This final season follows many of the folks we first met all those years ago back in Season 1, from Piper to Alex, Suzanne to Tasty, Red to Blanca. We also follow the guards, the warden, the former guards, the former warden, and the families of the prisoners. It is an emotional ride, packed full with thoughtful, depressing, harsh, realistic, wonderful, hopeful and frustrating moments.

Piper, now out of prison, attempts to adapt to live on the outside. Finding a job, coming to terms with being an “ex-con”, juggling new-found friendships with her marriage to Alex, who is still in the thick of it behind bars. Her story is one of both redemption and self-acceptance, and never really found a dull moment. Without spoiling things, I was happy with how Piper, our focal character throughout the show, was written and how her story ended.

‘Tasty’, down and out from being given a life sentence, is also attempting to walk the line between finding her way back or just giving up. Her story is one of the most emotional ones, and I thought Danielle Brooks did an incredible job in this role for the whole run of the show. She was able to show real human emotion and a struggle that made you, the viewer, ache for her. Taryn Manning’s role of Tiffany Doggett has perhaps had the most winding, up and down and twisting story arc in the series, and Season 7 keeps that going, showing more backstory on her, and taking her on a path to self-acceptance, a running theme in this final season. She’s been an incredible character. The tales of Suzanne, Red, Cindy, Nicky, Daya, Lorna, Gloria, Aleida, Blanca and others are all given closure in their own ways, some in a positive and hopeful way, and others in heartbreaking, sad and upsetting ways, showing more of that “realism” that Orange has always been about. Not everyone has a happy ending, the good guys don’t always win and bad people, much of the time, get away with way more than we want them to. I thought every last actor in this show did an amazing job at telling us this final chapter. It was, perhaps, the most harrowing and invigorating season yet.

Talking about various real issues such as immigration, unfair treatment of detainees, abuse, homelessness, racism and mental health care, Orange is the New Black once again refuses to shy away from the things that are happening in every day life right now. Showing the pain, the torturous situations and the hopeless places that people find themselves in, Season 7 of Orange is the New Black takes a stand on its way out, and shines an even bigger light on what’s going on in the world.

If you’re yet to watch this show, go watch it, seriously, it’s one of the best modern television shows and it’s been a pleasure watching. Farewell.

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