Besides being one of the most entertaining shows, ‘Orange Is The New Black’ touches on some important social issues.
Since the release of the first season Orange Is The New Black has been steadily gaining a strong fanbase. Based on a Piper Kerman’s memoir Orange Is The New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison the show successfully brought us both laughter and tears throughout all four season. Season 4, however, differs from what we saw in seasons 1-3 by touching on some of the most relevant social issues currently worrying American society.
With the privatization of the Litchfield Correctional Facility and the influx of new officers, the dynamics of the show change drastically. The guards start abusing their authority, drawing our attention to the similarities with the infamous Stanford University Prison Experiment (in 1971 a group of students was randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards and participated in a lockdown experiment at the Stanford University which very soon took a wrong turn).
By episode 13, “Toast Can Never Be Bread Again,” the tensions escalate and the prisoners decide to peacefully protest the abusive situation. The protest results in the death of one of the most beloved characters, Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley). Here also unveils Poussey’s background – a fresh transplant to New York City in an unfortunate turn of events gets arrested for trespassing and drug possession, and eventually sentenced to 6 years in prison.
A man responsible for her death, officer Bayley (Alan Aisenberg), turns out to have a similar story that for him ended with a slap on the wrist. The injustice of the justice system is only intensified by the tragic outcome of the encounter. And then again, when it comes to paying the price for his actions, he walks away with no punishment.
The whole season and particularly its finally are inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and the lives of Michael Brown, Eric Garner or Sandra Bland. Orange Is The New Black successfully aims to keep its viewers thinking about and discussing those issues.