*Disclaimer: May contain minor spoilers* After seven hugely successful series, one of Netflix’s first original series ‘Orange is the New Black’ is finally coming to an end.
Based on the memoirs by Piper Kerman, OITNB focuses on the stories of women incarcerated in the fictional Litchfield Penitentiary. Throughout several seasons we see how and why these different women have ended up in prison from drugs charges to abduction to murder, while focusing on issues that are very real in America today.
Having been a huge fan of OITNB since the release of the first season back in 2013, the show has never held back on dedicating storylines and portraying issues they felt were important to share. From its vast range of LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, gender pay inequality, police brutality and the injustice of the American prison system, director Jenji Kohan has made sure all grounds have been covered.
The seventh and final season has gone above and beyond what I could have imagined from the show. The season focused greatly on American immigration and ‘ICE’ and showed harrowing scenes of young children in court without representation, barely old enough to even understand what immigration is, being deported back to countries in poverty. Although deeply upsetting, it really gave a sense of the policies and politics in America right now and although this was fictional, opened my eyes more to the fact that this is happening to thousands of people daily, all around the world.
This season also covered the effects of a miscarriage of justice, after one of the season’s major characters was convicted of a crime she hadn’t committed and is pivotal in showing how destructive this sentence is to her life.
Although the season ends with a montage of where the characters are now, it was not a neatly tied, happy ending for them all and I am grateful that the show did this. Although it would be wishful thinking that they were all released and integrated back into society, this is not the case in real life, and for me this is where Orange is the New Black goes above and beyond being just another TV show. Integrated into the final episode is the creation of the Poussey Washington Fund. Supporting 8 pre-existing non-profits, the real life fund aims to “support organisations in their effort to rethink, revise and reform justice in America” and focus on ‘social issues surrounding criminal justice and policy reform, immigrants’ rights and helping those affected by mass incarceration’. It would have been easy for the creators of the show to just show the injustice that is faced by incarcerated women but with the creation of the fund, the legacy of the show lives on, and can continue to inspire and help people for years to come.
All seven seasons are available to watch on Netflix.com