December 5, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

New Season of “Orange is the New Black” Brings New Drama, Trauma

They call it POITNBSD. Post- “Orange is the New Black” Syndrome. Or if they don’t, they really should. If there’s one thing we know about showrunner Jenji Kohan’s prestige Netflix show, now in its fifth season, it’s that no punches are ever pulled. And we mean ever.

When Kohan conceived of a prison drama that would put a white woman at the center of a multicultural universe divided by patriarchal rule and class hatred, she made it quite clear to us that if we were going to try to view “Orange is the New Black” as mindless entertainment, we’d have a hard time of it. At very least, we’d have to come out of our binge-watching coma feeling heavily politically implicated.

What’s different – and shocking – about the fifth season of an initially singular show – is how it manages to pull itself out of the water time and again. When season four ended last year, with one of the most beloved characters meeting her unceremonious (and deeply politicized) death, and a standoff that left a potentially life-ruining decision in the hands of another intensely loveable character, the Internet wasted no time in dragging Kohan across the coals. Sure, she’d left us with an incredible cliffhanger, a swell of dramatic tension, and a climax that left both the prisoners and prison workers in a potentially mutually destructive situation. But she’d sacrificed one of her most important characters to do it. No one knew if the show could survive the death of Poussey Washington – or if the next, Poussey-less season of “Orange is the New Black” was going to quite live up to its Orange is the New Crack reputation. Were the fans just too betrayed? Had they finally had enough?

Well, in a word, no. Season five arrived last Friday, without too much fanfare, and we were hit with the drama all over again. Of course, no one had forgotten about Poussey. But with the prison in full chaos mode, every character dealing, in her own way, with the political implications of an impending riot, and a number of main characters splintering fully off to do their own insane thing, viewers were almost distracted enough not to want to look backward.

Last season ended just on the heels of the Pulse massacre, which also dovetailed with the end of L.A. Pride, making the politics of the show feel just a little more wrenchingly painful than they might have in an alternate universe. Add to this season the reality of the once-unthought-of election of Donald Trump, the year anniversary of the Pulse shooting, and the release of Chelsea Manning from prison, and we have a whole new, arguably much more complicated world in which to watch the trials and tribulations of our favorite social justice warrior prisoners. So has “Orange is the New Black” lost its edge? Not at all. Has it adapted? Certainly. But you might say that it came into existence, at the very start, to help us adapt. To give us more tools with which to battle an increasingly frightening, hostile, and unjust world. And for that, the show deserves its place in the pantheon.

Related Posts

Team Trans* Walk-Out At Netflix Office In Hollywood

October 18, 2021

October 18, 2021

Netflix’s trans employee resource group is planning a Team Trans* employee walk-out on October 20th at the Netflix office located...

Sex and the City Star Willie Garson Dead At 57

September 28, 2021

September 28, 2021

Acclaimed actor and Los Angeles resident Willie Garson passed away on September 21 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer,...

GLAAD Responds To Historic Emmy Noms

July 26, 2021

July 26, 2021

GLAAD has responded to the historic Emmy nominations after it was announced that out trans actress MJ Rodriguez and out...

MJ Rodriguez Makes History As First Out Trans Woman Emmy Nominee

July 26, 2021

July 26, 2021

Actress Michaela Jaé, formerly known as  MJ Rodriguez, became the first out trans woman performer to be nominated in a...

“Gayest Episode Ever” An LGBTQ+ Podcast

June 29, 2021

June 29, 2021

Gayest Episode Ever is an LGBTQ+ podcast hosted by journalist Drew Mackie and screenwriter Glen Lakin. The podcast looks at...

Buzzfeed’s Docuseries “The Andrea Mares Project”

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

BuzzFeed’s As/Is presents “The Andrea Mares Project,” a docuseries that shadows Andrea Mares, a trans-feminine Latinx, as she embarks on...

2021 Pride Announces “Thrive With Pride” Theme

May 15, 2021

May 15, 2021

LA Pride has announced its 2021 pride theme this year called “Thrive With Pride”.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in...

Ellen DeGeneres Ending 18 Year Talk Show

May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021

After more than 3,000 episodes and 19 seasons it is confirmed that Ellen DeGeneres is ending her talk show The...

Ellen DeGeneres Under Fire For Admitting To Driving Under The Influence

April 30, 2021

April 30, 2021

Ellen DeGeneres is under fire for admitting to driving wife Portia DeRossi to the hospital while under the influence.  While...

Tina Turner Documentary Breaks Records

April 4, 2021

April 4, 2021

Singer, song writer and gay icon Tina Turner released a documentary on HBO Max as a farewell to her fans...

First Gay Teen Captain America Revealed By Marvel

March 28, 2021

March 28, 2021

Marvel Comics has revealed the first look at a new Captain America who happens to be a gay teen.  The...

32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards

March 21, 2021

March 21, 2021

GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today announced a new slate of...

New Grindr TV Show

March 18, 2021

March 18, 2021

The popular LGBTQ dating app Grindr is getting its own original scripted TV show set to air this fall. Bridesman...

Anti-LGBTQ Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh Dies At 70

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Controversial talk show host Rush Limbaugh died on Feb. 17th from complications of lung cancer at his home in Palm...

Hal Holbrook, Actor Who Played Mark Twain, Dies At 95

February 3, 2021

February 3, 2021

Hal Holbrook, the actor best known for his accurate portrayal of Samuel Clemens — better known as Mark Twain —...