Netflix announces Orange is the New Black is ending with season 7. The series was one of Netflix's first original hits - created by Jenji Kohan and based on the autobiography by Piper Kerman - and helped launch the streaming service into the stratosphere it now dominates.
OINTB started as a look into the female prison system through the eyes of a privileged Smith graduate. Taylor Schilling played Piper Chapman, an erstwhile drug smuggler whose past crimes come back to haunt her Instagrammable new life. But over the course of six seasons, the show's focus slowly pushed Chapman's doe-eyed story to the sidelines in favor of focusing on supporting characters like Daniele Brooks' Taystee, Samira Wiley's Poussey, Dascha Polanco's Daya, and Taryn Manning's Doggett, not to mention broader issues surrounding the politics governing prison culture and the fates of those who inhabit it.
But, today, the series official Twitter released a video of cast members announcing as a group that the show would conclude after its seventh season in 2019. The short series of clips featured actors from the show's core cast including Daniele Brooks, Uzo Oduba, Natasha Lyonne, Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Kate Mulgrew, Taryn Manning, Adrienne C. Moore, Dascha Polanco, Selenis Levya, and Yael Stone informing fans of the news and sharing how much the experience the show has meant to them. Mulgrew fulfilled her role as de facto matriarch by eloquently drawing attention to the series' overall impact: "I'm going to miss playing and living on the edge of one of the most groundbreaking, original and controversial series of this decade."
While fans will no doubt be sorry to see the such a feminist-centric show draw to a close, some would argue that the time is right for Litchfield to shut down. Season 6 ended with Piper leaving after marrying Alex Vause who still has four years on her sentence (mirroring the real life trajectory of at least the prison sentences of Piper/Alex inspirations Piper Kerman and Catherine Cleary Wolters) and in a parallel story, Taystee was sentenced to life for the second-degree murder of Piscatella. Daya's own life sentence has resulted in a heroin addiction, Flaca's about to be deported and Red's likely never to see her family with any regularity again. The contrast between Piper's relatively easy treatment in the face of her less fortunate peers might have seemed prescient when the show started, but served to make her an increasingly unpopular and unsympathetic lead as the seasons went on.
The show's more than made the point that the American prison system is irreparably corrupt and totally dysfunctional, and season 6's field trip to Litchfield Max was compelling at times, but just as often indulgently and gratuitously dark. The relationships and loyalty the women have with and for each other continues to be the series' bright spot (the best part of a season 5 that proved divisive), and we'll certainly miss that. But perhaps most of all we'll be glad to see these women find some peace, which is hopefully what season 7 will give them.