Jake Peffer reviews the fifth season of Orange Is the New Black
When Orange is the New Black
debuted on Netflix four years ago it kind of came in under the radar. Nobody was really talking about it much and I don’t think anyone expected it would become as popular as it is now. Here we are going into season five and the show is not only one of the most popular Netflix original shows but it is also one of the most watched series on the streaming service since its launch.
Season five picks up right where the previous season left off. The inmates of Litchfield have taken over the prison and are causing a riot. Some are protesting the death of inmate Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley
), others are rising up because of the way they are treated by the guards and other are just along for the ride; regardless of the reasoning behind the riot it’s clear the inmates all agree that they want a better experience than they have been getting. This season takes place over the course of three days as we watch the inmates take the majority of the guards hostage, including the warden, and demand that they deserve to be treated better, given better healthcare anddeserve a Ged, among many other things.
This is certainly the most ambitious season of the show thus far and to me it’s what made this season one of the most entertaining to watch. Focusing on one major event allows for a lot more time with the many characters this show has to offer. We get far more character development, not only with newer characters but even with characters who have been around since season one. Even through all of the chaos going on throughout this season it’s quite astounding how almost every character gets their moment to shine and contribute to the overall season arc. Surprisingly, the main protagonist, Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling
), takes a backseat this season to free up more time to showcase many of the other characters. I felt like this was a step in the right direction for the series because Piper has always been one of the least compelling characters but her being used almost more as a side character lets her shine even more than when she’s front and center.
One thing that this series has always been able to do well is be consistent. Whether that’s on the acting side, writing or with the storytelling, this show never skips a beat. The acting, just like all previous seasons, is top-notch here. Everyone involved gives it their all and makes this easily one of the best ensemble casts on TV today. While it’s hard to really pick out any particular performances as being better than others I do have to give credit to a couple of standouts. Danielle Brooks
as Taystee is without a doubt one of the best performers on this show but in season five she really gets her chance to shine. Most of the season does center around her and her attempts to get justice for her best friend and she flourishes in every scene she appears in. Uzo Aduba
also should get recognition for her performance as Suzanne a.k.a. Crazy Eyes
. She’s almost been the most complex character and her performance will having you laughing tears one episode and crying tears in the next. That kind of acting is almost not seen a lot in most shows these days.
While I do think this is without a doubt one of the best seasons so far it doesn’t mean there aren’t some hiccups along the way. With such an array of characters to have to give time to, there ends up being times where lesser character get more screen time than characters I would like to see more of. That’s the problem with having so many characters who all have to share screen time but that is what also makes this show so diverse. In previous seasons the flashbacks that they focus on in each episode are usually quite good however this time around they all felt flat. The one exception would be the flashback for Taystee but all the others felt like they were leading to more but then eventually spiraled into nothing. One last complaint I had is one that most people have had issues with in this season. Toward the end of the season there is an episode that plays out like a horror movie with inmates being captured like something out of Halloween or Friday the 13th
. I did have a problem with the initial setup but I did like where it ended up going in the end.
A lot of people seem to be split with this season and that is shame to me because I feel like the big risks the writers chose to make this season really paid off. We got to see a different side to a lot of these characters we’ve come to love and we got to learn more about characters we didn’t know that much about. All in all this season will go down as one of my personal favorites and has me very excited about what’s to come.
What did you think of Orange is the New Black
Season 5? Let us know in the comments below.