Orange Is The New Black: Educating or Fantasizing the Criminal Justice System

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers from Season 4 of Orange is The New Black 

Season 5 of Netflix’s hit series Orange is The New Black (OITNB) will be released this Friday, June 9th. YAY! If you aren’t obsessed with series yet, this upcoming season will definitely hook you in.

I decided to re-watch the whole series to prepare for the new season. Unlike some other shows I watch, OITNB does not centre solely around a comical and/or purely entertainment theme. The series has tackled important social issues, like mental illness, LGBTQ+ rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the American Prison system. Not to mention, it has shed light into a variety of crimes, the intent and cause behind the crimes, racial issues, class divides, and sexual orientation and preference.

Even though OITNB does an incredible job combining both drama and social justice into the series, it is still only a TV show. That means that any conflicts within the show might be exaggerated or even made up. Just to attract a larger viewer rating. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean the topics discussed should be taken lightly either. OITNB may be a fictional show, but the social issues that they focus on are very real.

Here are some things we might see in Season 5:

1. RIP Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley)

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Am I the only one still mourning the loss of Poussey????? Not only was she sweet, sensitive, funny, passionate, supportive, cute, the list can go on… BUT, she cared. She cared about her friends, family, strangers, goals, and social issues. AND, her death hit so close to some of the racial inequalities our world is still experiencing. She WAS the symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement on the show. Her final words, “I can’t breathe,” mimicked the exact words of Eric Garner, before he was murdered by police. Garner was racially profiled, suspected of selling single cigarettes (Is this even a crime wtf?), and put into a chokehold until he died by American officers. It was almost unbearable to watch this exact re-occurance take place on OITNB with Poussey.

Based on how Season 4 ended, I think the inmates will finally revolt against the correctional officers!! How this story line will play out, I have no idea.

2. Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Dogget and Charlie Coates

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Pennsatucky is a character I grew to love throughout the seasons. So, it broke my heart to see her sexually assaulted this season by Charlie Coates (The officer seen above). The whole situation was so disheartening and complicated. First, both parties claimed to have liked each other. Coates admitted that he loved Dogget right before he committed the crime. What makes everything worse is that he holds a position of power. The only reason Dogget did not report Coates was because she knew no one would believe her, since she is a prisoner. This misuse of power is absolutely devastating to watch. Dogget might be a prisoner, but she is still a human and should have been treated as such.

Season 4 ended with a passionate kiss between the two (Ugh). Coates told Dogget that he wanted to quit his job, so that he can be romantically involved with her. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what exactly happens with this relationship.

3. Suzanne Warren “Crazy Eyes” and Maureen Kukudio

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Suzanne represents a slew of mentally ill inmates on OITNB. She is an extremely important character because through her, we can see the lack of aid, acceptance, and tolerance given to people with disabilities and illnesses in correctional facilities. How Crazy Eyes and other mentally ill characters are treated by officers is beyond disappointing. When these characters are seen as a liability, they are granted “compassionate releases,” thrown in the psych ward for “their own protection,” or forced upon their friends to take care of them. Poussey was trying to defend Suzanne when she was murdered. If the system had more compassion, knowledge, and programs for mentally ill inmates, like Suzanne, murders like that of Poussey’s could be prevented.

Suzanne and Kukudio are another prison couple that ended on complicated terms in Season 4. Suzanne, after being forced by officers, bet up Maureen to the point where she had to be taken to the medical ward. After trying to suffocate herself, so that she could feel what it’s like “not to breathe,” Suzanne ended up in medical right next to her ex-girlfriend. Will they rekindle their love in the medical ward? Will it be an awkward recovery for the both of them? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Only a few more days until season 5 of Orange Is The New Black is Released on Netflix!

 

 

Cass Next Door

I love taking photos. I love it even more when I’m photographing my best friends. Meet Cassandra, the subject of my second photo series.

Best Friends Forever

We take the term “bff” to a whole new level. We met back in junior kindergarten. How we became friends, I’m not quite sure… We were only 5 years old at the time. What I do remember were playdates spent jamming out to Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne, ABBA, Paula Abdul, and Cher (Very unusual music taste for young girls). For each birthday, our moms would buy us matching clothing. And, we would plan days where we would actually wear these matching clothes.

Seventeen years later, after attending different high schools and post-secondary schools, we are still the exact same 5-year old best friends we were when we met. Yes, that means we still like to match and listen to questionable music at times. We also love gossiping, going to concerts (OVO forever), shopping, tagging each other in memes, and TAKING PHOTOS!

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The Photos

Once we finally passed that “awkward phase” (Maybe we’re still in it, I don’t know), we started having photoshoot days. I love taking photos with Cass. Partially because she is incredible at makeup and always does mine, but also because she’s so freakin’ photogenic. Not to mention, we are completely comfortable in front of each other and always supportive of each others crazy photo ideas.

Here are some of my favourite photos I’ve taken of Cass.

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My Date with Cait

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Caitlin and I have been having “photoshoots” together since grade 8. That’s 7 years ago. They started off as cute, kind of awkward, smiling photos taken all around Toronto. We would pose in malls, by graffiti walls, and even wearing our Catholic school uniforms. As our friendship grew over the past 7 years, so did our comfort with taking photos.

I always had a passion for photography, both as the subject and the shooter. However, I never actually considered turning this hobby into a career. In the past few years, I disregarded my obvious talent for photography to focus on work and school. Caitlin has always been that one friend that has encouraged me to continue this passion. Below are sample photos I took of Caitlin from a recent shoot we did. They’re unedited, but still so fabulous. Enjoy!

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