Everything Wrong With ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Season 5

Look, we love this show. We love it’s characters. And we love so much of what Orange Is The New Black has achieved thus far within the hallowed halls of TV history. But wow, season 5. Way to lock us in the proverbial, stinking porta-potti that was your weird, unintelligible, insulting narrative. In our opinion it was a royal stinker of a season. We deserve better as fans, and the show deserves better, too. So yeah, this is a long ass list, guys. Grab some flaming hot Cheetos and get comfortable…

1. The Timeline Made No Fucking Sense Whatsoever

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In a recent interview with The New York Times, creator Jenji Kohan said of Orange Is The New Black‘s timeline, “Our Piper was sentenced to 18. I think we’re at about 10 months.” Let that information sink in, if you will. According to the show’s creator, over the course of five seasons of the show, only ten months of time has passed.

“But wait!” we hear you scream. An awful lot has happened in ten months, hasn’t it? For instance, in that time, Daya got pregnant, gave birth, gave up her child, and Pornstache was imprisoned as a result. How then, in Season 5, is Pornstache a free man? And as for how long it takes to make a baby, we must’ve been misinformed?

2. Pointless Flashbacks

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There were exactly two flashback sequences that felt worthwhile this season, and they were the Girl Scout and the Sorority ones. They were perfect. But beyond that, every other flashback felt forced, and needless. Worse still, many of them ended abruptly, leaving the episode feeling vacant. Why introduce a flashback without purpose?

3. Two Characters Snort Coffee Granules, Even Though They Now Have Access To Actual Drugs In The Pharmacy

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All of the white inmates raid the pharmacy like any sane person would during a prison riot when they have access to whatever they want. So to slum it on coffee granules? Are you fucking kidding? That scene wasn’t just stupid, and nonsensical, it was also incredibly insulting, and uncomfortable, as the whole thing seemed to play upon the damaging trope of non-white people as primitive savages.


4. Conveniently Random, Unrealistic Plot Points


*Oh, look! A swimming pool*

5. Caputo Knows About The Swimming Pool But Fails To Mention It Until Right At The Very End Of The Riot

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Seriously, that seems like something Caputo might want to bring up a little bit earlier. Like, say, before the militia charge the place, ffs?

6. The Lack Of Platform For Black Lives Matter

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For a show which has prided itself on tackling current affairs, particularly the sort of police brutality that incited the Black Lives Matter movement, you’d think that season 5 would bring the perfect opportunity for the show to give more of a platform, and support, to it. But it doesn’t. In fact, the whole season fails the movement completely. Would it have been so hard to give focus to a BLM activist outside the prison trying to help with negotiations? Because that would have been exceptional.

7. “Black Lattes Matter”

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Speaking of which, OITNB had no time for boosting the voice of BLM, but it did take the time to make a throwaway joke about it in the form of a gif involving Cindy drinking a latte. Which, had the show have shown any interest in platforming BLM, could have worked, but instead it came off as utterly tone deaf. Which is no surprise considering that the season 4 writers’ room was criticised for not featuring a single non-white writer within it. Considering the quality of the content surrounding non-white characters this season, it seems very likely that hasn’t changed.

8. Taystee’s Negotiations

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So frustrating, and so out of character. There’s no way that Taystee would throw away the opportunity to improve the lives of her fellow inmates, when she’s repeatedly told that justice for Poussey is not something that can be automatically granted due to the legal system. Furthermore, why the fuck wasn’t Caputo fighting for her over this? Why wasn’t he making sure that she negotiated for the inmates, and felt assured that when the time came, that she’d be allowed to be there to help fight for justice for Poussey? It felt like a weak ass plot point delivered for the sole benefit of a big, explosive final episode where the militia could charge the prison. Lazy af.

9. Apparently A Crowd Of Fans Turn Out For Flaca & Maritza’s MakeUp Vlog, But Groups Like BLM Aren’t There To Support The Riot?

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Sorry, what? Is that how this works? There would be a Goliath crowd of activists outside of Litchfield by the season finale. Not just a small crowd of concerned friends and family, and a group of YouTube fanatics. What the fuck is happening, OITNB?

10. So Many Missed Opportunities

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For instance: Early in the season, there’s a discussion about the fact that African American women characters don’t survive horror movies. Later, in the horror movie episode, it looks like Cindy is being prepped as the “Final Girl” and hero of the season. But no. She’s just a walking punchline, and it turns out all of those horror references were for nothing but fan service. Which is beyond frustrating. How cool would it have been to see Cindy take on the Final Girl trope as her own, and be the one who saves her inmates from Piscatella? It would have been the absolute coolest, guys.

11. Inconsistent Characters / Boringly Consistent Characters

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Characters like Sophia, Pennsatucky, Blanca, and Frieda were developed so badly in this season that they barely resemble the characters they were introduced as. On the other side of that coin, characters like Big Boo, Suzanne, Morello, Nicky, and Red, were the opposite and became so predictable in their output, that it was like watching pull string dolls communicate with each other. Main characters were reduced to one or the other this season, and it was not enjoyable to watch.

12. Nazi Skinheads Portrayed Sympathetically

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13. Rapists Portrayed Sympathetically

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Can someone please explain why corrections officer Charlie Coates has such an important role in Season 5? After his gross, criminal, and inexcusable actions in Season 4, we thought he was all but done in Litchfield. Alas, instead he became the heterosexual love interest no-one needed or asked for. Not only was the rape he committed seemingly forgiven, it was all but overlooked entirely. Isn’t. It. Time. We. Stop. Portraying. Rapists. Sympathetically?

14. Smart Phones Are Used Continuously, Yet We Can’t Maintain A Battery IRL For Even Half A Day


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Everyone gets phones early on in the riot. But there’s a catch. There are no phone chargers. The electricity is also switched off for approximately 24 hours. Despite this, several prisoners manage to film, edit, and upload beauty vlogs to YouTube, interact with the comments’ section, and get turned into memes that no-one would ever make in the real world. But this is TV, so that’s OK, isn’t it? Well, no, seeing as Orange Is The New Black seeks to make so many important points about the real world it’s very much set in.

When Flaca and Maritza first announce they’re running out of battery, in the latter half of the season, they decide to go in search of a charger. They must find one pretty quickly, as they’re vlogging again in no time. This whole plot line made no logistical sense, and could’ve been avoided so easily.

15. Only Two People Notice The Hole In The Damn Fence And Escape Through It

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Mei Chang, and the Magic Mike guard that the inmates repeatedly rape and objectify, are the only two people in the whole prison who see that there’s a viable hole in the fence and decide to make a run for it. Sure. OK. Whatever at this point.

16. There’s Barely Any Continuity


Maritza, who was forced to eat a live baby mouse at the end of the last season (which, according to the show’s timeline would have been about a day ago?) isn’t traumatized in the least bit by it and doesn’t bring it up once. She would be pissed off. And she’d for sure want some of her own retribution against that guard, regardless of whether he got shot or not.

17. The Show Failed To Remind Us About The Horrors The Guards Previously Inflicted Upon The Inmates

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We should have been rooting for the inmates, not the prison guards. Just any basic exposition would have been really helpful to remind the audience that most of these guys are far from innocent, and were part of the reason the riot happened in the first damn place.

18. So Many Plot Holes

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That tattoo on Piper’s neck. Hmmm. Never seen that before…

19. The Magic Mike Sequence Was Embarrassing, Not Empowering


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We get it. Women like strippers just as much as men do. That’s why Channing Tatum exists. But this was not feminism. This was not empowerment. Especially not when the same guard was shown being raped a few episodes later in a scene which may as well have been soundtracked by the Benny Hill theme. Such japes, right?

20. The Tone Was An Embarrassing, Awkward Hot Mess

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If you want to make powerful, political points then don’t undermine them with absurdist humor, random acts of gleefully politically incorrect “slapstick” comedy, and plot lines so poorly executed that they end up looking like everyone in the writers’ room supports white supremacy, misogyny, violence, sexual abuse, and racism.

21. Flaca And Maritza Got Reduced To Mindless Barbie Doll Stereotypes

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Nothing more important han vlogging, and contouring with herbs and spices. Great job, writers.

22. The Show Still Has No Idea What To Do With Sophia & Gives Her The Laziest Exit Ever

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One of the most interesting characters on the show, played by one of the most talented performers in the cast, written out at the start of the season. Fucking typical.

23. The Return Of Jason Biggs


Fuck off, Larry.

24. The Return Of Jason Biggs’ Ass



25. There’s No Lori Petty

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Come back Tank Girl. Litchfield needs you.

26. Leanne And Angie Forcibly Give Suzanne White Face & It’s Not Criticised Once Within The Show

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27. Nothing Bad Ever Happens To Leanne And Angie

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Are Leanne and Angie the heroes, or the villains? Why does nothing bad ever happen to them? They give Suzanne white face. They rape a guard. Yet we’re meant to consider them the comic relief? No. Just no.

We could go on and add to this list forever, but life is short, and we need to start watching the next Netflix show we’ll both inevitably hate. BYE.


amy rAmy Roberts is a writer and musician based in Liverpool, UK. She’s an entertainment features writer at Bustle, and has been published by KinklyThe Independent OnlineHello Giggles and Queen Of The Track. She was on a panel of David Lynch experts at a Northern Film & Media event, and is the bassist for D-Beat punk band Aüralskit. Her blog ‘I Never Knew You Were Such A Monster’, fiction and non-fiction about the horrors of everyday life, was shortlisted in the Blog North Awards two years running. She is very fond of Timothy Olyphant and is totally Team Catalano.

amy mackelden photoAmy Mackelden is weekend editor at ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Marie Claire, and co-editor of Clarissa Explains Fuck All. Her work’s been featured in heat magazine, New Statesman, Kinkly, The Guardian, Cosmopolitan, Town & Country, ELLE Decor, The Independent onlinexoJane, Ravishly, and Hello Giggles. Her new show, MS Is My Boyfriend, is funded by Arts Council England. She’s a recipient of the Artists’ International Development Fund, and is currently working on #SQUADGOALS with Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist Elizabeth Grammaticas.





3 thoughts on “Everything Wrong With ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Season 5

  1. I’m sorry but Piper’s beauty fish tattoo was always there since the pilot and the story behind it was kind of a mistery until s5.

  2. Piper’s fish tattoo has always been there since season 1 episode 1. They showed it when she was talking to the medical officer. As for the BLM protester not being there, I’m not sure if they’re aware about Poussey’s death. The vid that Taystee did didn’t go viral, whereas lots of people watched Flaritza’s video. The main news that people knew were the riot at Litchfield.

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