Oh my gosh. I waited for this new season of one of my top 3 series of all times. Boy, did I get disappointed in the first 10 minutes of the first episode of season 6 of the Orange is the New Black. But boy, was it worth watching the rest…
As I expected following the end of season 5, our girls have been moved to maximum security prison. While previous seasons have mostly dealt with negotiating identities and group belonging among our girls, this season predominantly tackles loyalty.
Therefore, girls find themselves in the situation to snitch or even to frame someone they do not like to get a better plea or get away from responsibility and added time on their sentences. While some of the behaviour is just a continuation of tensions from the old minimum-security prison (Mendosa versus Ruiz) some new situations emerge in which girls have to betray Red who has been like a mother to all of them, or frame Tasha for something she has not done at all…
In this season, guards are not just the good old guys from minimum security prison, because we also see some new faces. Some of these are everything but nice, and some of the treatment is very questionable, not just in terms of morality but also legality of actions (e.g. beating inmates for the sake of it or playing games and betting which inmate will do this or that). At the same time, one really has to wonder whether guards in real life also allow inmates to fight to see who wins some sick bet, and whether some knife attacks and deaths happen because gurds did not react promptly to earn points in their game. However, this is not to say that guards are shown in a bad light only. As it was the case with previous seasons, the series continues with its narrative of all groups of people being both good and bad, and most of all being human. Thus, we see that guards from minimum security prison have PTSD from riots and humiliation Ruiz et al afforded them, and that they find it difficult to sleep and deal with fear they experienced. We also see some good guards who are more friendly and polite towards inmates.
As I mentioned, approximately first 10 minutes were unbearable with Suzanne having a hissy fit and hallucinations because she was not on her meds. If this beginning was at the start of a new series there is no way anyone would watch that series, even though it became clear later on that these scenes were tackling mental health and conditions in the US prisons, where inmates are not always looked after. But, after this first bit ends and gets explained, the series picks up really well. In addition to old characters we also have some new ones and these new characters have been introduced well. This season also continues with narratives of personal life before prison through flashes, so we get to know what brought new characters to prison. The season 6 is, in my view, definitely better than season 5.
As I predicted that this season will be about maximum-security prison, I hope I predicted in my review of season 5 (see here) that the season 7 will also be about Piper getting out and us seeing her re-establishing her life after prison.
Either way, I already look forward to the season 7.
Thank you for reading.