Welp, fans of Litchfield it looks like we have reached the end of an era. On Wednesday, the cast of “Orange is the New Black” released a video announcing that its upcoming seventh season would be its last. This is sure to be bittersweet news for the show’s fans who have helped it remain Netflix’s most popular series. Not to mention helped catapult the careers of many of its formerly unknown stars, most of whom are womxn of color, to fame.
For those of us who turned to the show for representation of Latinx stories, news of the show’s final season is especially bittersweet for the Latina fans.
Since its premiere in 2013, “Orange is the New Black” has been hailed as groundbreaking.
The Netflix original dramedy is based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name. The series explores the fish-out-of-water story of a privileged white woman doing time in prison. Although Netflix has remained notoriously hush about their streaming stats, it has been widely reported that OITNB is their most-watched original series. Keep in mind, this has it beating out juggernauts like “House of Cards” and “Stranger Things.” Its frank yet nuanced depiction of female prisoners have earned it 12 Emmy Award nominations and three wins.
Of the decision to end the iconic TV series, its visionary creator Jenji Kohan said: “After seven seasons, it’s time to be released from prison. I will miss all the badass ladies of Litchfield and the incredible crew we’ve worked with. My heart is orange but fade to black”.
Its depiction of complicated, flawed, and sympathetic female characters from all walks of life is unprecedented in television and opened doors for LGBTQ, Black and Latina talent.
Dascha Polanco, Diane Guerrero, Selenis Leyva, and Jessica Pimentel all got their start on OITNB. According to Jenji Kohan, these casting choices were purposeful. She previously revealed that “the pools of talent [while casting] are so deep when you have a call for Latin women or black women or a middle-aged woman because they never get their shot”. She even admitted that the producers would sometimes “add new characters ‘cause we wanted to use another actress”.
In its six seasons, OITNB explored topics like trans rights, queer politics, PTSD, sexual violence, and racism. Notably, they tackled these issues with nuanced and poignant storytelling. And although prestige television has evolved to include more stories like these, it’s undeniable that OITNB was among the first to do so.
As publications like Rolling Stone have previously noted, “Orange is the New Black” has also had a hand in re-shaping the TV landscape towards greater inclusivity. In an interview about the doors the show has opened for new characters, actors and storylines, actress Laverne Cox, who has portrayed trans prisoner Sophia Burset since the series first season, once told Rolling Stone “[OITNB has] revolutionized television. The unprecedented diversity that we just saw in pilot season I think would not be possible if it weren’t for us”.
The show confirmed news of the final season on their Twitter page and the fan reaction was real.
— ♡~Vale~♡ (@AniStreep5) October 17, 2018
And so many fans are sharing what the show meant to them.
Oitnb will always have such a special place in my heart, I’ve followed the show and all of the cast for a number of years now and have become so attached. Thank you for giving the world this incredible show, thank you for being a beautiful light during some of my darkest days ????
— ♔♔♔ (@fxckmevause) October 17, 2018
So many Twitter users shared what the show’s efforts to highlight women of color and of the LGBTQ community has mean to them.
And fans are already campaigning for storylines.
— StarryMag (@StarryMag) October 17, 2018
#Flaritza forever man.
Although OITNB is ending, there’s no denying that its impact on the industry and its culture will remain. We’ll always have a place in our hearts for the ladies of Litchfield.