There have been mixed reviews of the recently released third season of Netflix’s hit series Orange is the New Black, at least among my friends, but nevertheless I want to tell you a few reasons why I think season 3 rocks. (Warning, mild spoilers ahead! I mean, not really...but if you don’t say spoilers ahead then people get pissed.)
Two words (repeated over and over again): Character development, character development, character development.
- In season 3, our girl Piper Chapman is no longer the main character. She's no longer the one you root for, or the one you relate to. And you know why that's huge? Because it proves that middle class white women aren't the only characters on TV we care about. Furthermore, the success of the show demonstrates that there’s hope (and a market) for diversity in media.
- Humanization. My favorite thing about this show has always been that everyone has a backstory, and everyone gets to have that story told. And even in season 3, I feel like this formula works. The characters that you have loved to hate in the previous two seasons suddenly get these complex pasts, and I just think that's really important. In my opinion, telling human stories is the obligation of shows like this. Because if you don't use your platform to humanize and educate, then what's the point?
- This show turns the age-old character hierarchy on its head, and reverses all stereotypes. Suddenly men are the ones reduced to being those unimportant side-characters, those characters who you don’t care about as much. And frankly, it's about goddamn time.
- This show has always been so culturally relevant, and the third season is no exception. From introducing gender-fluid Ruby Rose, to commenting on religion and making light of institutionalized misogyny, rape culture/victim blaming, and racism, this show is both culturally relevant and socio-politically intelligent.
To summarize-- sure, the story may have changed a little from what we all fell in love with in season 1, but shouldn't it? If it didn't evolve, all we would be talking about is how it's the same old, same old. What's great is that this show has an immense audience, and an impressionable one at that, and the creators are still using their platform to educate, inform, and tell human stories.
This has been a brief defense of Orange is the New Black. Now back to your regularly scheduled binge-worthy programming.