The trailer for the newest season of Orange is the New Black just dropped yesterday morning (May 9th), and everyone is freaking out. Why? Because it is even better than anyone of us could have imagined. Before we get any further into this article, we should warn you: spoilers, spoilers, spoilers ahead. While we can’t spoil anything coming up in season five (duh, none of us have seen it yet), we are going to be talking a lot about where the show left off and what might happen given the events of the trailer. So if you aren’t entirely caught up on the series, you’ve got a lot of work to do before digging into this article.
Orange is the New Black is truly a show for everyone. Nearly every race is represented in the show and, while the cast is predominantly female, they’re not just talking about women’s issues. These are human issues, that concern being treated with humanity even when you’re behind bars, receiving dignity and respect no matter what race or creed or sexuality you are, having a voice in your society and community that is not squelched and is heard. These days, can’t we all relate to women like these?
So you’ve seen the trailer for season five (if you haven’t, arm yourself with some experience and watch it here). Now let’s get into it and get ready. Here are 15 things you need to know before watching season five of Orange is the New Black:
15. Rumors About Laura Prepon Leaving
Okay, everyone needs to calm down about Laura Prepon. There have been rumors about Laura wanting to leave the show since the break between seasons one and two. And yes, her character (Alex) is incredibly interesting and a lot of fun to watch- but she’s not even that central to the story line anymore and most of her character’s purpose is to have a bullshit on-and-off relationship with Piper. According to writers and producers, Laura has occasionally had tiffs regarding compensation and long-term binding contracts, but she’s never once threatened to leave the show. Also, since the show bases itself in casting actors who have yet to burst onto the scene (primarily actors of color, too), Laura doesn’t really seem like she’s in a good position to be making any kind of demands, either.
Side note: interestingly enough, the real-life woman who Alex is based off of (yes, this series is based on a book and you should read it) recently came forward saying she is being portrayed all wrong and how she was never manipulative or conniving. We wonder if the writers or actors will do anything with this new information!
14. The Season Takes Place Over 3 Days
Season five of Orange is the New Black is going to be incredibly different from any other season of the show we have seen. While the show is known for its frequent flashbacks that track the arcs of many characters and can sometimes be ambiguous about how much time is passing while characters are in the SHU (solitary confinement), this next season is going to hurl any preconceived patterns and habits out the window. The whole season will take place in a three-day time period- the three days immediately following Poussey’s tragic death. Things will be occurring in ‘real time;’ now, we admit we’re not incredibly sure what that means, if we’ll be seeing them at all hours of the day and night and if things will always be occurring chronologically and if we don’t get to see flashbacks for new characters (of which, there have to be many with the overcrowding issues).
13. The Show’s Not About Piper Anymore
Like we briefly mentioned before, Orange is the New Black is based on a book by the same name. Written by Piper Kerman, who is essentially a real-life version of Piper Chapman, the book recounts her time in prison and her trial. Honestly, (spoiler alert) the book is more concerned with her strained relationship with Alex than prison. It sounded like her time in prison was kind of tense but altogether not horrible- she had friends sending her books and correspondence daily.
But this book and this show have become a whole other thing, which is no longer about Piper. A tag line of “a fancy white girl goes to prison” has enticed millions of viewers and now, those viewers are all being exposed to the plight, discrimination, and stories of people who deserve to be heard infinitely more than Piper ever did. So sure, we’ll hear from Piper occasionally, but this show is not about her anymore- it’s about something far greater.
12. You Can’t Just Jump Into the Show
First and foremost, we need to be totally upfront with you: if you haven’t been watching Orange is the New Black, but this trailer caught your attention and you want to start watching, go back to the beginning and watch it all from the start. Didn’t you read what we said when we told you three times in the intro: SPOILERS AHEAD! This show is very involved and complicated and intricate; you can’t just start watching and hope to understand the character arcs and the plot and all that’s going on! This isn’t some dinky show like How I Met Your Mother! This show is like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, or Stranger Things: you have to not only watch it from the start, but be paying keen attention the whole time. If there were post-episode questions to quiz your episode-comprehension, we might actually be appreciative. Do yourself a favor and start watching the show from the beginning now.
11. Poussey is Better Than Ever
We’ve warned you four times, so if you still want spoilers here they are:
Poussey is actually better than ever. Well, wait… okay… not Poussey. Poussey is dead, and we’re all still sobbing about it. Honestly, when Poussey was killed at the end of the season last year, we were distraught. Her death was so sudden and tragic that it took all of us off guard and shook us to the core. How would Orange is the New Black ever be the same again?
Well, it won’t be the same (as you’ll come to realize throughout this article), but Samira Wiley- who played Poussey- is actually doing better than ever. Samira has married her beloved wife Lauren Morelli (one of the Orange is the New Black writers). She’s also got two movies coming out this year, while she’s also starring in the Hulu series based on a bestselling novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, that is killing it in the ratings. She’s doing just fine for herself, so don’t worry about what’s happened to Samira now that Poussey is gone.
10. What’ll Happen to Daya?
Perhaps even more shocking than Poussey’s death was watching how the prison management dealt with the tragedy. Warden Caputo shamed Poussey’s memory and the prisoners all began a marching down the halls, fury in their eyes and anger in their hearts, impassioned in their defense of this murdered woman. When it all came to a head, a corrupt guard dropped his gun- and Dayanara Diaz was the one to pick it up. With the guard on his knees, she ends the season with her gun trained on his head.
The first big question is: will she pull the trigger? These women have so much to be angry about, no one would be surprised if this guard bit the bullet. But she also just had a baby, one that is now hurtling towards the foster system along with her younger siblings. If she kills this guard, she’ll likely be put in max for the rest of her life- maybe that will happen for aiming the gun at the guard alone. So what could possibly become of Dayanara?
9. What About Repercussions for those Just Out of Prison?
More specifically, we’re really referring to Dayanara’s mom who just got out early for good behavior: Aleida. Though she certainly was not the greatest mother, she clearly loves all of her children as well as her new grandchild. In a heartbreaking display, we saw Aleida staying on the couch of her boyfriend’s other girlfriend (yeesh) and taking care of this other woman’s baby. She said she’d do everything she could to get Daya’s and her own kids back, but she can hardly find a place to stay- like these are easier said than done. When she learns of what’s happened in the prison in her absence, what will she do? Especially when she hears about Dayanara picking up this gun and jeopardizing her chances of ever returning to her child. Despite being a “free woman” once again, Aleida will likely feel more powerless than ever to help her daughter.
8. Not a Vigil, but a Seance
Alright, we’d like to take you back to the trailer for a minute because we want to pick it apart a bit. This season is going to take place right after Poussey’s death, so obviously the dialogue is going to center around her and her character and those events. If you go back to the trailer and pause it about 16 seconds in (0:16), you’ll hear Taystee telling Caputo that all the women are angry while the shot shows Suzanne (Crazy Eyes) standing in the midst of a vigil clearly designated for where Poussey was killed in the cafeteria. But if you keep watching to the end (1:57), you’ll see Suzanne, Soso, Taystee, Cindy, and Janae all in a circle trying to evoke Poussey’s spirit. Suzanne is conducting the odd seance and speaking in deep chants saying they’re ready to receive the spirit (all the while Janae is dying laughing). We have to wonder- who decided it was a good idea to perform a seance? And why? And who put Suzanne in charge?
7. Soso Will Be a New Person
Speaking of Soso, she’s got to be on iffy ground. Soso has gone through a lot over the course of her stay at Litchfield Prison. Throughout season two, she tries to make friends but is entirely unable to get along with anyone. In season three, she is able to find help and solace with the Counselor Birdie Rogers- but Counselor Healy usurps her authority and has Soso go on antidepressants that only kill her mood further and make her feel more alone. Soso attempts suicide but is saved by Poussey, who then bonds with her. The two start dating and planning a life together outside of prison- only for Poussey to be killed at the end of season four. So how will Soso go on? It looks like she’s going to learn to get angry! Instead of internalizing her sadness and feeling useless, it looks like her friends are going to raise her up and show her that it isn’t her fault she’s poorly treated- it’s the world’s.
6. Theme: Unite
Piper’s entrance into the prison was marred with segregation. She was told that white people stay with the white people; Latinas go with Latinas; black women go with the black women; old ladies stay with old ladies; and the few others that don’t fit those stereotypes clump together. As long as the show has existed, it’s been divided. People have even written poorly about the series, saying it has a “race problem;” what they don’t understand is that art reflects life, and that we all have a race problem.
But that’s all about to change. Maria Ruiz starts the trailer out saying, “if we want to turn this place right, we have to speak as one united group. Who’s in?” Maria’s right; if the women of the prison (or women of the world, or PEOPLE of the world) want things to be equitable, fair, and humane, they have to stand as a united front- not as women who hate each other based on their skin color or age or sexuality.
5. The Real Problem of Prison Overcrowding
Equality and unifying aren’t the only real-world themes and issues addressed in this upcoming season of Orange is the New Black. Even more prisoners are being shuttled in to Litchfield Prison as things are hitting the fan. You can see in the trailer how insanely over-packed the bunks are, bodies lying everywhere that they can fit (even on the floor), people packed into lines so tightly that you wonder how they could all fit anywhere. What’s sad is that the writers are not exaggerating- prison overpopulation is a massive problem, especially in The United States. Around the world, at least 115 countries have overcrowded prisons and it leads to decreased living conditions, resources, and treatment of inmates. It makes our prisons go from reformative lockdowns to labor camps, and it inspires a cycle of poverty and crime that is difficult for anyone to escape. Reform of prison sentences due to minor infractions and misdemeanors must happen to prevent the continuation of real-life situations like these.
4. Netflix is Getting Crazy Political
Typically, Netflix has begun filming the next season of Orange is the New Black before we’ve managed to finish binge watching the current season- that means that this season began production long before the election had finished or many of the recent terrorist attacks or before certain milestones of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, it’s as if the writers are clairvoyant and were able to foresee all of our most recent tragedies and heartbreaks, because this season is going to hash at them all. We’re most excited for the show to address that significance of the Black Lives Matter movement versus the Blue Lives Matter movement (sects saying black people deserve equal levels of humanity versus those defending the rights to use force for cops). While there’s so much that this show can talk about, we’re really excited to see what the writers choose to focus on- and if they get to talk about the rampant sexism in our modern government.
3. The Season Restores Efficacy to Those Robbed of It
When someone is sentenced to prison, they are kind of faced with a confusing message. When behind bars their lives and liberties are limited, but only insofar as they don’t play by the rules and make nice with their guards and guardians. That means that prison life for people like Piper can be relatively cushy, while prison life for people like Maria can be utter hell. You must submit to whatever a guard says to you, corrupt or not, in order to eat three meals a day and sleep soundly? That’s not only robbing someone of their liberty, but their dignity. And here, at the start of season five, these women are taking back the efficacy in their lives that has been siphoned away. While it’s a grand gesture and we’re terrified of what it can mean for these women, we’re simultaneously really happy they’ve got the chance to take back the humanity that has been taken from them.
2. Even the Cast Members Think It’s Overwhelming
This upcoming season is going to be a lot to handle. We’re sure the writers knew it as they were cranking out the scripts, and we certainly know it now that we’ve seen a taste of the trailer. But the cast knows it too, and it looks like they’re just dying to talk about it with us. “There’s a resistance that is happening in the country right now,” Laverne Cox (Sophia) said in response to how this season will parallel all that’s happening in the world. “It has us constantly thinking beyond ourselves because the stakes are so high. Because people out there in the world are dying…” meaning, people like Poussey are not all fictional. When Laverne was pried for more and more information, all she did was bit her lip and smiled smugly saying, “you’ll have to wait and see.” BUT WE DON’T WANT TO WAIT, WE WANT IT RIGHT NOW!!
1. It’ll Be Here June 9
Fortunately for us, we won’t have to wait very long. Orange is the New Black will release their next full season on Netflix on June 9th- which seems like it’s a long way away, but be honest! It’s not so bad! At least they give us the joy of releasing it all at once so we can just spend a day and a half planted in front of our televisions and get the whole story at once. That gives us just enough time to marathon the last season in preparation (or, for those true fans, to sit down for a week and marathon the whole show). It also gives us just enough time to stew in anticipation of what will happen to Dayanara… what will happen to Suzanne… what about Aleida… and why is Gloria so upset… and UGH we can’t wait four weeks! How dare they tease us like this?!