The new season of Orange Is the New Black is available for consumption on Netflix starting Friday. There are 13 episodes in season five, which picks up right where season four left off, with an uprising at Litchfield Penitentiary underway. The season covers just a few days of the show’s storyline, with the prisoners involved in a standoff with the guards, and the notion of structured prison life for the series’ main characters blown apart.
The show has its comedic elements, and in 2015, Netflix attempted to enter Orange Is the New Black in the Emmy race for best comedy, which was rejected by the TV Academy. But the new season, wrote James Poniewozik in the New York Times, is “all in” on drama.
“More than ever, Orange is like a speeding vehicle with a wheel missing,” writes Poniewozik. “It doesn’t always steer steadily, you can feel the chassis shimmying and straining, but the velocity is urgent.”
USA Today had a mixed reaction to the new season, saying some episodes are simply too dark. “The condensed timeline has made the sprawling series more confused than ever,” wrote Kelly Lawler.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.