TV Review: Orange is the New Black (Season Three)

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“Think of all the roads
Think of all their crossings
Taking steps is easy
Standing still is hard.”

Yes, it’s true. I am a chronic binge-watcher. Over the past two days, I have sat engulfed in the trials and tribulations of Litchfield Prison. By this, I mean, watching the third season of the iconic series, Orange is the New Black

Following season two’s intense plot (*ahem* Vee), this season is a tad lighter in comparison. The characters – rather than a specific storyline – guided this season from start to finish, allowing for some truly powerful performances.

Previous seasons focused on Piper Chapman and her transition into prison, and consequently, her relationship with the inmates. Now, her story is backgrounded against the incredibly emotional stories behind the other inmates. Oh, and how could I forget fan favourite Alex Vause’s return to prison? Let’s just say that this season offers plenty of reasons to watch.

The themes of motherhood and religion are at the forefront of the 13 episodes, and are seamlessly intertwined within the characters’ stories. These are particularly highlighted through Norma’s benevolent cult, Cindy’s conversion to Judaism, Daya’s dysfunctional relationship with her mother, and the inmates’ struggles with parenting behind bars.

For me, the highlight of this season was Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett’s unusual friendship with Big Boo. It was incredible seeing these two polar opposites coexist and stand up for each other. Doggett’s storyline is quite vivid and dark, which is in stark contrast to Big Boo’s confident and easygoing composure. This unlikely friendship makes for some fascinating television … and a few laughs and tears! With this in mind, Taryn Manning and Lea Delaria are standouts this season as they deal with the harsh reality of female vulnerabilities and one’s expression of sexual identity.

Many were expecting this season to place emphasis on Piper and Alex’s turbulent relationship; however, this did not happen. While many were disappointed with this, I enjoyed learning more about the lesser-known inmates and their tempestuous journey through prison. Brook Soso’s (brilliantly portrayed by Kimiko Glenn) battle with depression and isolation particularly resonated with me, given her happy and reassuring equanimity last season. For me, these realistic perspectives are particularly appealing to me.

The only problem I had with this season was the way the writers treated Piper Chapman. While I understand that they wanted Chapman’s prison experience to clash with her perfectionism, I do not believe it was necessary. Her actions were out of character and in a way, it seemed as if the writers wanted audiences to actively dislike her. Moreover, the introduction of a new love interest (played by the beautiful Ruby Rose) was also unnecessary and added little to the plot. Nevertheless, the multi-talented Taylor Schilling continues to display her impeccable acting skills, which is a feat given Piper’s lacklustre character development.

All in all, the acting throughout this season is flawless by each and every cast member, as is the eye-opening view into the lives of the women. While I was not impressed with Piper Chapman’s characterisation this season, I loved everything else. Unlike past seasons, each character plays a leading role in their own stories. For instance, Norma and Chang were originally seen as secondary characters; however, this season sees them develop into pivotal characters integral to the progression of the show.

It has only been an hour since I finished the season finale and I can already feel the post-series depression setting in.
Let’s just say that you will be doing yourself a favour by watching this incredible show.

Only 362 days until season four … but who’s counting?
(Okay, yes fine, I am counting #sorrynotsorry). 

Season three is now available on Netflix
Rating: 4/5

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