‘Orange Is The New Black’: Breaking Down Social Issues In Season 4

Orange Is The New Black’ Delivers Its Most Controversial Season Yet

The girls of Litchfield stand up for big issues when ‘Orange Is The New Black returned in June 2016. Each season escalates the drama to an unimaginable level; season 4 took the show to a place they’d never be able to return from. Intense stories of racism, mental illness, and corporate corruption made ‘OITNB’ more topical than ever before.

White privilege has been discussed earlier with Piper’s character but ‘Orange Is The New Black‘ dives into it head first with Judy King. She’s a rich, white celebrity so once she arrives to Litchfield, she’s given anything she wants. Parallels to Martha Stewart are intentional. Judy is a fun character who brings something new to the prison but her story is all too real.

Season 4 also dived into corrupt corporations like MCC, the fictional company that owns Litchfield prison. Arguably being compared to their real-life counterpart (Corrections Corporation of America), this company only hurts the inmates for their own personal gain. Warden Joe Caputo found out how inhumane the business room can be. Will they be around for season 5?

Mental illness played a big part of this season as well. Not only did Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren get more screen-time but Lori Petty shined as Lolly. Watching her mind deteriorate as the season went on was tragic. Mr. Healy wasn’t even safe from the mental illness storylines. What a tragic character arc he goes through.

“You are a straight, white man. You don’t get to play the victim, sweetie”
Judy King

After all is said and done, the one issue this season tackles hardest is the “Black Lives Matter” movement. With the murder of the most innocent black character on the show, the lines between fiction & reality began to blur. Comparisons to real-life black tragedies like Ferguson, Sandra Bland, and Eric Garner did not go unnoticed. The character was suffocated while restrained like Eric Garner, her body was left on the ground for 24 hours like Michael Brown in Ferguson, and her name was never mentioned in the aftermath like Sandra Bland in Texas. Only reason her name is not mentioned now is to avoid spoilers for some fans.

Orange Is The New Black
Gif via oitnb.tumblr.com

So where do we go from here?

I’m baffled on how the show will follow up this socially conscious season. ‘Orange Is The New Black‘ continues to provoke audiences one way or another. Dealing with the aftermath of all these situations will make for an interesting fifth season but there needs to be continual progression as well. Will current political and social issues find their way into the next season? We have to wait until 2017 to find out.

Let me know your feelings about the 4th season of ‘OITNB‘ in the comments below!

EJ Moreno
EJ Morenohttp://Vimeo.com/EJMoreno
Who is EJ Moreno? Is he a trained physician? No. Is he a former Miss Universe contestant? Possibly. With a bachelors degree in film and a love of pop culture, he brings an alternative view to the world of pop culture journalism. Follow him on Twitter @EJKhryst and check out his film work at Vimeo.com/ejmoreno