Orange is the New Black Season 4: Where is the Line Between Frustratingly Realistic and Torturous?


I’m a habitually slow watcher. When Netflix releases a show’s entire new season in one go, I try to pace myself and watch when I can make time. Consequently, I often end up being that guy who hushes everyone by saying, “no spoilers!” 

Orange is the New Black, however, presents an exception to this habit. I picked up the show during its second season and have blazed through every new 13-episode set as it premiered. I loved the complexity and variety of identities being represented in conjunction with one another. I appreciated the reality intertwined with humor and grace. Maybe I’m being gratuitous with my praise—but I did also tune out pretty much every scene about Piper and/or Alex so that made for a much more enlivening experience. 

As someone who has a vested interest in this program, I immediately noticed how different season four felt from its predecessors. It’s dark. Really dark. Things at Litchfield are crumbling with no foreseeable resolution in sight. Each episode digs itself further into a hole of bleakness and destruction. Even the punchlines are cruel and unusual (see: “What was the last goldmine?” “I don’t know…the War on Drugs?”).