Reviewing: OITNB, Season 4


I have been a lover of OITNB since the beginning. Once I finished the first season, I rushed out and read the memoir on which the show is based (we will discuss this at a later date.)

I love how the show has such a wide range of characters, and they really get into the background and plot lines of each one with such finesse. Not only this, but there are so many one-liners and small happenings that just really make the show good. OITNB has yet to fall into the trap of “too much, too fast.” I think this often happens more with sitcoms where writers get confident and end up basically vomiting all the jokes and events they have into a single episode. And then the show simply becomes not good anymore.

While OITNB hasn’t fallen into this trap, I think they are teetering on the edge. This becomes apparent in the last episode of season four.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s step back.

Again, if you haven’t watched this season (or any of the seasons for that matter) go. watch. now.

Right off the bat, we get into some serious shit. I was almost turned off by the beginning with the undercover hit man coming to kill Alex. But it did add an interesting bit of psychology to the rest of the season with Alex trying to deal with his death and how they hid him away.

One of the things that I found most interesting about this season was Lolly. Not only did we see the full extent of her mental illness, but we also got to see some of her back story which I loved. Not only does  her story point to the unfortunate fact that many mentally ill people end up in the system simply because their actions are misunderstood or they are not getting the treatment they need. This season also hovered around the topic of how mental illness is treated in the prison system. This has been a topic I’ve wanted to explore for a long time.

At my former job as a reporter for a small newspaper, I was able to talk to our county sheriff, jail commander and a woman whose sole purpose was to help inmates with known mental illness as they made their way through and out of the judicial system. This jail was making very huge, marked strides in treating inmates and helping them to not become reoffenders. But, that was just a small, underfunded county jail. What’s being done in larger prisons, not to mention for-profit ones such as the one we see in OITNB?

I hope they take this topic further.

Speaking of for-profit prisons, this really annoyed me. I’m sure some of the things were dramatized in the show (like the convention), but I’m sure a lot of issues, like overcrowding, are true. How can people do these things in good conscience? How can you deprive women of menstrual items in prison? How uncomfortable do you want to make them?

While it frustrated me, the entire plot line of this season  (and there was already a lot going on to begin with), made sense. When a place, any place, falls mercy to big-business decisions, you inevitably get situations like wrongful deaths and disgruntled people willing to go to extreme lengths to get something changed. This happens all the time. Not just in prisons. I hope we all can realize the parallels here.

Other than this, Judy King annoyed me. Ruiz annoyed the fuck out of me. And literally what the fuck (my thoughts as they relate to Sophia.)

And here we come to Poussey. I have since disposed of my buckets of tears and trash bags of tissues. While I had this ending slightly spoiled for me, I was constantly waiting through the whole season for it to happen. When is she going to piss someone off? How does this happen? Why does this happen?

The story definitely doesn’t seem to be going towards death — Poussey and So So are so cute and happy together. How could things go wrong? I have to say I was upset about it, although I was less upset because of how they did the entire episode. The way they inundated the horrible events and the aftermath with flashbacks to Poussey’s night in NYC gave me the deepest of feels. I can’t believe she was in jail for something as minor as having a bit of pot. This just goes to show how unfair our justice system is, and the extreme ramifications of its corruption.


Tears and tissues all around.

I’m a bit afraid of where they may go next. I’m afraid the show may be running away from itself, taking on too much. But we’ll just have to see.

What did you think of season four? What did you think about how Poussey’s death was handled? What are your opinions on how mental illness is handled in the judicial system? Let’s talk.


One comment

  1. I really enjoyed this post. I definitely agree with you that the storyline about for-profit prisons is shocking but I do think that they did clearly set it up for Poussey’s death as everything was going so well for her.
    I also wrote a post about the latest series of OITNB recently if you are interested –


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