Orange Is the New Black is back for season four and taking no prisoners. Pun intended.
The first six episodes feature enough shocking and touching moments to get you through the requisite Piper (Taylor Schlling) scenes. Yes, at least in the first six episodes, Piper continues to be the show's biggest problem. Her character is made all the more weak by the surrounding compelling faces, especially new addition Blair Brown as the Martha Stewart-Paula Deen hybrid Judy King.
It remains hard to care about Piper and that's no fault of Schlling. The character started as the entry point to the series and served her purpose. Her quest to become a kingpin, consumed with power, just inherently doesn't inspire any feelings besides ambivalence. Will she get what's coming to her? Meh.
What's fascinating about Orange Is the New Black is the ease in which you can get lost in this wonderful colorful world of characters. But that's not to say it's without harsh realities. Some of the plight, namely that of Sophia (Laverne Cox), and conversations had by the new heads of the prison MCC bring you right back to reality because it's happening in your backyard right now.
There's a nice blend comedy and drama to perfectly place Orange Is the New Black in the dramedy category. Yael Stone's Morello continues to be a comic standout, with her in-person phone sex, but especially when she's paired with Uzo Aduba's Suzanne as they embarked on a quest to find a mystery shower pooper. Danielle Brooks' Taystee continues to be an absolute delight and it's worth noting she was doing double-duty filming Orange Is the New Black while preparing for and performing her Tony-nominated Broadway stage role in The Color Purple. On the drama side, the threat of new and tougher guards who are at the ready to abuse the women and their power is always lingering. Meanwhile, Lori Petty brings a heartbreaking zaniness to the show with Lolly.
Perhaps Orange Is the New Black's biggest downfall is actually a compliment: The sheer amount of characters makes it difficult to give everybody enough time. While last season heavily focused on Norma (Annie Golden) and Gloria (Selenis Leyva), they're hardly present in the first six episodes of the new season. The size of the cast has ballooned so much that it's nearly impossible to give everybody ongoing storylines the proper attention…so it's a good thing the show has already been renewed for an additional three seasons.
Orange Is the New Black season four is now streaming on Netflix.