Season 4 of Orange Is The New Black was amazing. I loved it to the point where reviewing it would be pointless because I would literally just be showering it with praise. After watching the season over the course of 36 hours I was sure that I wasn’t alone in that opinion but apparently I was wrong.
To clarify, the majority of people that have watched it have in fact loved it – critics and casual spectators alike – but the very intense fan communities that I consider myself to be a part of do not share that opinion.
A major criticism of this season was the killing off of the character, Poussey. People complained that it was a distasteful exploitation of the Black Lives Matter movement whilst also continuing the damaging trope that occurs consistently in television of killing off gay characters.
I completely disagree.
As I watched the episode where Poussey died, there was a sense of inevitability – you knew it was coming but you were powerless to stop it and that is one of the show’s longest running themes: powerlessness. As a prisoner you have no real power, your fate is in the hands of authority figures and you can only hope that they will assert their power in a fair way.
Poussey couldn’t have saved herself; Taystee couldn’t have saved her; and as much as we wanted to, we couldn’t have saved her.
A big argument is that the show could have killed off anybody. They didn’t have to be black or gay or even happy? Except the problem with that is then it wouldn’t have had as big an effect on the public. As far as TV shows go, Orange Is The New Black, has a huge percentage of queer characters in their show so I can’t imagine that sexuality played a big part in their decision to kill Poussey.
As far the idea of the show exploiting Black Lives Matter goes, to say that would be the cheapen the whole thing. Rather than exploiting it the show was trying to showcase it. Listening to the news is hard: there is so much death and violence every single day that you stop hearing the names and you cease to think of the dead as real people. Fans of the show have seen Poussey’s life over the span of three years and so you can’t switch off – you feel pain and you recognise the injustice of it all.
I guess what I’m saying is that I grieved over Poussey’s death and that’s a sign of a truly great show.
What did you think of this season? Do you completely disagree with me? Do you think that they could have put forward their idea without killing off Poussey? Let me know in the comments.