The epic conclusion of one of Netflix’s most critically acclaimed original shows, Orange is the New Black, has people all over the nation anxiously awaiting the season 7 premiere. The media-services provider recently revealed that the groundbreaking dramedy will begin its’ final season on July 26th, 2019. In the opinion of many, much like reaching the bottom of a sinful bowl of ice cream, the end has come too soon.
For the past six years, fans have developed a deep emotional investment in the fictional stories of the women occupying a prison in Connecticut, Litchfield Penitentiary. They have become fully absorbed into the inmates lives as they struggled to navigate the complicated corrections system. Skillfully weaving comedy into a psychologically draining dramatic series rife with varying plots of manipulation, power-play, and sometimes even murder, is no easy task. Jenji Kohan, the creator of Orange is the New Black, however, has managed to do so, season after shocking season.
In the beginning, we watched as Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) entered the facility for the first time, and we followed her as she met each unique character. From her former girlfriend, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), who she would later marry in a prison ceremony, to Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (Uzo Aduba) and everyone in between, we learned to love – and hate – the ladies at Litchfield one by one. Now, as we prepare to say goodbye, the seventh season promises to leave us cheering for some and agonizing over the fate of others.
The full-length trailer for season 7 gave a glimpse of what can be expected. While Piper adjusts to receiving her early release and begins her life outside of the walls of involuntary confinement, fan favorites like Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson (Danielle Brooks) and “Black Cindy” Hayes (Adrienne C. Moore) aren’t as lucky. In season 5’s shocking prison riot, Taystee was wrongly accused and found guilty of murdering Desi Piscatella (Brad William Henke) and sentenced to life in prison. As a result, her friendship with Black Cindy hangs in the balance after Cindy lied on the stand, ultimately contributing to her guilty verdict. After being labeled a “guard killer” by the correction officers once pleading guilty to the murder of one of their own to avoid the death penalty, Dayanara “Daya” Diaz (Dascha Polanco) is repeatedly beaten and attacked by the guards. Her subsequent addiction to opioids – and later heroin – ultimately lead her to become a member of a gang and join a drug smuggling ring.
Polycon, the private company that took over management of Litchfield from the Federal Department of Corrections in season 3, caused several harrowing issues for the ladies that will be further explored in this upcoming season. Blanca Flores (Laura Gomez) suffered the injustice of being moved to an ICE facility because of Polycon partnering with ICE to create a detention center for illegal immigrants, even though she was set to be released early alongside Piper. Gloria Mendoza (Selenis Leyva) and the staff who run her kitchen, grow increasingly discouraged by the revelation of Polycon’s new money-making scheme.
Orange is the New Black has been a catalyst for recognition and praise for the cast, writers, and producers of the show. The core of the success of the series has been the eagerness to remain true to the integrity of the stories that each character represents.
"We're hoping that, through these stories, we can talk about the issues we have with the system and then also tell the human stories of these peoples' lives and the struggles that they face," writer Brian Chamberlayne explained to The Hollywood Reporter. He further went on to say that it was imperative that the show did “justice to the people who are going through this experience.”
Nigerian-American actress, Uzoamaka Nwanneka "Uzo" Aduba, won an Emmy Award in 2014 for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series and another in 2015 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her depiction of “Crazy Eyes”. In both 2014 and 2015, she also won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series. The only other actor in history that has won an Emmy Award in both the comedy and drama categories for the same role is Ed Asner as Lou Grant in the CBS series that aired in the late 70’s through to the early 80’s. In her perfect performance of the mentally-unstable yet wildly intelligent inmate with a tendency towards violence, Aduba has managed to simultaneously frighten her audience while pulling at their heartstrings and making them pity her situation.
As the show comes to an end in its’ final season, we bid a tearful adieu to the Netflix series that effectively changed the way the world looked at the prison system and the women who are entangled within it. Quoting songstress Regina Spektor in the hauntingly beautiful opening theme song for the show, “You’ve Got Time”: Remember all their faces, remember all their voices. Oh, we will, Orange is the New Black; we definitely will.