Year and a half after being broadcast around the world, is now available in Netflix Spain the end of Orange is the new black (OITNB for short). Quite a considerable time, taking into account that it was one of the platform’s first series and one of the titles with which it revolutionized the way of making television in that already distant 2013. The agreements signed in its day with Movistar have allowed the Spanish company have the exclusive so far of this seventh and final season. The same thing already happened to Netflix, losing control of one of the flagship titles of its first wave, with House of cards, although on that occasion the outcome was so sloppy due to unforeseen circumstances, that nobody missed it either. On the other hand, in this series its creator, Jenji Kohan, did have room to finish it as she wanted. Not like in GLOW, a title that could be considered heir to OITNB and that it was abruptly canceled due to the rising costs of filming derived from the pandemic. The final season of OITNB has been one of the best, with very sharp darts towards the politics of immigration of Donald Trump. As in The Good Fight, the former president of the United States was the shadow villain. Along the way, the plot also winked at the #MeToo and #BlackLifesMatter movements. The last two episodes of the series add up to three hours in length and the production team has made sure to count in them with the return of characters that we already took for granted. They are not all who are, but these moments of reunion are enough to take away the bitter taste that the outcome of certain plots leaves us. But they will tear off the occasional tear of nostalgia. A more than appreciable closure for a title that marked an era and that almost went through the back door, with less recognition than it deserved. Even its Spanish equivalent, Vis a vis, is better known among the general public.
The series is based on the memoirs of writer Piper Kerman, where he recounted the experience of his time in prison after a conviction for drug trafficking. His character in fiction was renamed Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) and put the middle-class viewer before the traumatic experience of living the rigors of prison life in their own flesh. Through his eyes, we saw how those little moments of pleasure in the daily routine that we take for granted, like enjoying a hot shower, changed radically when we were behind bars. Still, Piper could be considered lucky because there were no people among her fellow inmates who were truly evil. Advantages of being in a low security module. Most of them were broken toys, the remains of a society that cared little whether they were rehabilitated or not, and whether that should be precisely the role of prisons.
Piper’s sentence was two years in jailTherefore, television logic dictated that the duration of OITNB would not be much longer than two seasons. The thing got a little longer, but that doesn’t mean the gum was stretched unnecessarily. Until it became one of the longest Netflix titles. The big problem with the series was that many people got this romance in prison with Alex Vause (Laura Prepon). The scriptwriters wisely managed to divert attention to the rich and varied roster of secondary characters, who were much more interesting. The last season, in which Piper regained her desired freedom, showed how the routine in the prison continued without her and without major trauma due to her absence.
Life in prison turned racial and sexual diversity into something unforced, as it usually happens in other series. He even had the first actress tranny to get an Emmy, Laverne Cox. In the purest Lost style, in each episode there was always a flashback plot to show us what the life of one of the characters was like before going to prison. In OITNB you were nobody, if you did not have your flashback episode and some of the actresses reinforced their weight in the plot after that moment of glory. There we have the cases of Lorna Morello (Yael Stone) or of Pensatucky (Taryn Manning). Although the Emmys seemed reserved for the character of Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba), the outcome of Morello and Doggett’s stories are those that have left us with our hearts in a fist. Above all was Red (Kate Mulgrew), the Russian prison cook who, like her role as Captain Janeway in Star Trek Voyager, seemed her mother, always looking out for the well-being of her inner circle and confronting the guards with the same arrogance as if he were facing a Klingon pirate. With her, one thing had to be clear: It was better not to criticize her food. While Mulgrew already had his audience, for whom OITNB has been a platform to make the leap has been Natasha Lyonne, who has later triumphed on Netflix with Russian dolls and is now preparing for Disney a Star Wars series set in the darkest corner of the galaxy.
Throughout these seven seasons, the series has been putting aside the comedy tone a bit to show its most tragic side. Lest we forget that we are in jail. There are those who have reproached that it sweetened life in prison and that it seemed more that we were in a summer camp. And this despite the fact that the protagonists were surrounded by guards delighted to exercise their authority, whose way of thinking tends to move between fascism and sexual harassment, personified in the character of George Mendez, aka Pornstacho, played by Pablo Schreiber. Although he left the plot early, he has had several cameos over the years and has always managed to come back. Other characters tried to overshadow him, but there has been no one like him. Piscatella (Brad William Henke) couldn’t quite believe it.
The series hit the shark jump in its fifth season with that riot that started in prison after the death of an important character, which we will not say because of the spoilers. That season was another of the best. Life in prison during the revolt took over the entire plot and its consequences marked the evolution of the next two installments until the end. At the beginning of the series, the prison’s troubles came from a lack of funds, a shortage in which the divine hand of corruption had something to do with it. The situation did not improve with the privatization of the management of the Lietchfield penitentiary, a criticism of the tendency of certain ideologies to ignore that there are certain matters that should never abandon public management. The role of the evil corporation determined the start of the revolt, which ended in the way that everyone can imagine. Taystee Jefferson’s character (Danielle Brooks) became one of the scapegoats, while Dayanara (Dascha Polanco) would begin her descent into hell and lose that innocence that still remained when entering prison.
Without eating or drinking it, Piper was released in the last episode of season six. When no one expected it. During the final installment, we have seen their process of adaptation to society, in a plot that alternated with how life went on for those who remained in prison. We already saw other inmates go free in previous episodes of the series, although the system had revolving doors for them that were responsible for returning them “home.” It is not the situation of Piper, who has a solid foundation on the outside so that she does not fall again no matter how much she tries not to forget her life in prison. But this final season has reserved for us one of the most disturbing plots of the entire series, the effects of Donald Trump’s immigration policy. A system that treats these immigrants even worse than the inmates of Lietchfield, stripping them of any rights and showing their most inhuman and ruthless face to expel them from the country. A plot that has come to complete the permanent denunciation made by the series of the shortcomings of the North American prison system. Piper is at home, but the problems for her former colleagues are not over.