Orange is the New Black Season 5 – an amazing comeback or the biggest disappointment yet?
Orange is the New Black is a Netflix original series that explores the dramatised happenings of a womens prison. Beginning with a bang, the first three seasons of prison drama and character development were undoubtedly enjoyable. Then came Season 4, which tragically flailed to uphold the previously sublime series.
Still, the characteristic cliffhanger ending left some hope. So did Season 5 manage to revive the series?
Compressed Time Frame
Where S1 – S4 used their 13 episode seasons to explore a quick progression of drama, and delve into the backstories of featured characters, S5 presented an incredibly compressed time frame. Picking up from the cliffhanger ending of S4, the opening episode drops viewers in the midst of a prison riot – the key theme of S5.
Chronicling three days of riot activities in 13 episodes allowed for greater character development, but seemingly at the expense of OITNB’s more entertaining features such as the mix of comedy and drama.
Comedy x Drama
As an avid viewer, one of the best things about OITNB has always been the effortless switch between comedy and drama. Not only did this feature make for good entertainment, it also brought a light-hearted element to the otherwise emotion-charged series.
Suffering at the hands of the three day time frame, this season’s attempts at comic interjection were far more jarring. Lacking the smooth transition from scene to scene, especially in earlier episodes, certainly made the season harder to watch.
It Gets Better (Mostly)
While the first few episodes do progress rather slowly, the series does pick up as it goes on. Aside from a questionable Friday-the-13th-esque episode in the latter half of the series which the characters themselves mock, the season does generally improve as it progresses.
Overbearing Product Placement
Yes, product placement, advertising and sponsorship are certainly helpful in keeping a series running. With brands like Snickers, Cheetos and Nutella proudly represented, it also attests to the popularity of the series.
However, S5 seemed to contain a naggingly obvious, if not overbearing amount of product placement. The overwhelming prominence of these brands somehow took away from the viewing experience, halting full immersion into the already chaotically structured events.
True to form, the season ended with yet another unresolved finale. While S5 surpassed S4, it still pales in comparison to the first three seasons, although the cliffhanger leaves viewers once again on edge. This season is by no means perfect and certainly leaves you wanting for more, having sacrificed smooth transitions and more of a storyline for the compressed time frame.
The truth is, in the end, if you’ve made it through to season 5, you are truly in too deep to stop now.
So, here’s to another long wait for a hopefully better season 6.
7/10 – Not amazing, but still addictive and a must watch for dedicated fans.