Orange Is The New Black (OITB) has become a Netflix staple, as one of their highest rating success stories for original programming I honestly forgot that it was that time for season 3 after the solid amount of original programming the streaming giant has produced this year. The ladies of lichfield are back, and this time around things are very different and while the first couple of episodes may feel a little slow, it is a great foundation for a focus on new characters and stories this season.
It’s mothers day and the inmates are expecting visits from their children, in an “open day” of sorts in the prison with activities and the focus here is on the various characters that we have learnt about since this show began, what is clear is the shift in the show this season from it being all about Piper (Taylor Shilling) to now being about the prison as a whole and the array of characters who populate it.It takes about fifteen minutes before you even see Piper and when you do, this is the opening line “I make 11 cents an hour,” she replies as she helps fashion a cooling fan into a mini-golf windmill for some visiting kids. “When I get out of here, I will have no home, I will have no job, and not a whole lot of prospects.” The guard has no sympathy. “Welcome to the real world, princess!”
Over the last two seasons we have seen her fiancee, family, friends and job stripped away from her so she really has become one of the inmates and they are not afraid to show that here. She is nowhere near as neurotic and annoying as in previous seasons, this time around she is almost comedic relief, providing some hilarious commentary while still being the privileged inmate due to her skin colour, hair colour, looks and well spoken demeanour. It doesn’t come across as a massive shift in the series, it has always blossomed with ensemble cast, but this season it feels like it has really found its stride by mixing it up and showcasing a variety of inmates and their situations.
The episodes feel free and open to really explore in depth the large amount of characters this show has on hand, and it is completely unashamed to give more screen time and back story here. The prison is in danger of closing and this begins the season of change and a further exploration of our society, our class system and what this does to us as human beings. Never before has this show been more poignant, more important and more relevant.