Piper Chapman comes home

A frame from the final season of Orange is the new black.

A year and a half after being broadcast worldwide, it is now available on Netflix España The end of Orange is the new black (OITNB for short). A quite considerable time, considering that it was one of the first series of the platform and one of the titles with which it revolutionized the way of making television in that already distant 2013. The agreements signed in its day with Movistar have allowed the Spanish company to have the exclusive so far of this seventh and final season. The same thing already happened to Netflix, losing control of one of the flagship titles of its first wave, with House of cards, although on that occasion the outcome was so sloppy due to unforeseen circumstances, that nobody missed it either. Instead, in this series its creator, Jenji KohanYes, she had room to finish it as she wanted. Not like in GLOW, a title that could be considered heir to OITNB and that was abruptly canceled due to the rising cost of filming derived from the pandemic. The final season of OITNB has been one of the best, with very sharp darts towards the Donald Trump’s immigration policy. As in The Good Fight, the former president of the United States was the villain in the shadows. Along the way, the plot also left nods to the #MeToo movements and the #BlackLifesMatter. The last two episodes of the series add up to three hours in length and the production team has made sure to count in them with the return of characters that we already took for granted. They are not all who are, but these moments of reunion are enough to take away the bitter taste left by the outcome of certain plots. But they will tear the odd tear of nostalgia. A more than appreciable closure for a title that marked an era and that almost went through the back door, with less recognition than it deserved. Even its Spanish equivalent, Vis a vis, is better known among the general public.

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The series is based on the memoirs of the writer Piper Kerman, where he recounted the experience of his time in prison after a conviction for drug trafficking. Her character in fiction was renamed Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) and put the middle-class viewer before the traumatic experience of living in their own flesh the rigors of prison life. Through their eyes, we saw how those little ones moments of pleasure in the daily routine And that we take for granted, like enjoying a hot shower, they changed radically from being behind bars. Still, Piper could be considered lucky because there were no people among her fellow inmates who were truly evil. Advantages of being in a low security module. Almost all of them were broken toys, the remains of a society that cared little whether they were rehabilitated or not, and whether that should be precisely the role of prisons.

Piper’s sentence was two years in prison, so television logic dictated that the duration of OITNB would not be much longer than two seasons. The thing got a little longer, but that doesn’t mean the gum was stretched unnecessarily. Until it became one of the longest Netflix titles. The big problem with the series was that many people got this romance in prison with Alex Vause (Laura Prepon). Wisely, the writers were able to divert attention to the rich and varied roster of secondary characters, who were much more interesting. The last season, in which Piper regained her desired freedom, showed how the routine in the prison continued without her and without major trauma due to her absence.

Life in prison turned racial and sexual diversity into something unforced, as often happens in other series. She even had the first transsexual actress to win an Emmy, Laverne Cox. In true Lost style, in each episode there was always a flashback plot to show us what life was like for one of the characters before going to prison. In OITNB you were nobody, if you did not have your flashback episode and some of the actresses reinforced their weight in the plot after that moment of glory. There we have the cases of Lorna Morello (Yael Stone) or Pensatucky (Taryn Manning). Although the Emmys seemed reserved for the Crazy Eyes character (Uzo Aduba) the outcome of the stories of Morello and Doggett are those that have left us with our hearts in a fist. Above all was Red (Kate Mulgrew), the Russian prison cook who, like her role as Captain Janeway in Star Trek Voyager, looked like her mother, always looking out for the well-being of her inner circle and confronting the guards with the same arrogance as if she had in front of a Klingon pirate. With her, one thing had to be clear: It was better not to criticize her food. While Mulgrew already had his audience, for whom OITNB has been a platform to make the leap has been Natasha Lyonne, which has since triumphed on Netflix with Russian dolls and now prepare for Disney a series of Star Wars set in the darkest corner of the galaxy.

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Throughout these seven seasons, the series has parked the comedy tone a bit to show its most tragic side. Lest we forget that we are in jail. There are those who have reproached that it sweetened life in prison and that it seemed more that we were in a summer camp. And this despite the fact that the protagonists were surrounded by guards delighted to exercise their authority, whose way of thinking usually moves between fascism and sexual harassment, personified in the character of George Mendez, alias Pornstacho, played by Pablo Schreiber. Although he left the plot early, he has had several cameos over the years and has always managed to come back. Other characters tried to overshadow him, but there has been no one like him. To Piscatella (Brad William Henke) I couldn’t quite believe it.

The series hit the shark jump in its fifth season with that riot that started in prison after the death of an important character, which we will not say because of the spoilers. That season was another of the best. Life in prison during the revolt took over the entire plot and its consequences marked the evolution of the next two installments until the end. At the beginning of the series, the prison’s troubles came from a lack of funds, a shortage in which the divine hand of the corruption it had something to do with it. The situation did not improve with management privatization of the penitentiary of Lietchfield, a critique of the tendency of certain ideologies to obviate that there are certain matters that should never abandon public management. The role of the evil corporation determined the beginning of the revolt, which ended in the way that everyone can imagine. Taystee Jefferson’s character (Danielle Brooks) became one of the scapegoats, while Dayanara (Dascha polanco) would begin his descent into hell and lose that innocence that still remained when entering jail.

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Without eating or drinking it, Piper was released in the last episode of season six. When no one expected it. During the final installment, we have seen their process of adaptation to society, in a plot that alternated with how life went on for those who remained in prison. We have already seen other inmates go free in previous episodes in the series, although the system had for them some revolving doors who were in charge of returning them “home.” It is not the situation of Piper, who has a solid foundation on the outside so that she does not fall again no matter how much she tries not to forget her life in prison. But this final season has reserved for us one of the most disturbing plots of the entire series, the effects of Donald Trump’s immigration policy. A system that treats these immigrants even worse than the inmates of Lietchfield, stripping them of any right and showing their most inhuman and implacable face to expel them from the country. A plot that has come to complete the permanent denunciation that the series of deficiencies in the North American prison system has made. Piper is at home, but the troubles for her former teammates are not over.

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