Why is Nobody Discussing Orange is the New Black in 2018?

Written Imprisoned to a Lack of Spoilers by Bridger Cunningham

Try researching the latest on Orange is the New Black's 6th season, due in 2018, and a five-month void without articles on OITNB latest season is present.  This may be due to less-than favorable reviews of the much-hyped Season 5 prison riots, which received mixed-to-favorable reviews vs. the critical acclaim the first four seasons received in unison.  Outside of the OITNB world, 2017 was an impactful year for Netflix.  Not only was it the first year the online platform doled out dozens of cancellations, but was also scarred by the sexual assault allegations against Kevin Spacey (which damaged Netflix' prized series, House of Cards).  Perhaps the lack of information regarding OITNB's 6th season is Netflix's way of guarding its other major asset, which is renewed through 2019. 
Although the debut date is oft called out by the New Year, it has yet to be declared by Netflix.  It is presumed for June as Seasons 2-5 have all made their debuts this month (Season 1 debuted in July 2013), several Netflix series such as Stranger Things have pushed their season debuts beyond the 12-month expectancy.  Netflix has yet to confirm a date, though seems to enjoy the spike in viewership the anticipation OITNB gives the service in June.  

What is to Come in 2018 
Regardless of when S6 of OITNB debuts, changes are coming for the creative tone.  Whether the setting will remain in Litchfield Prison has yet to be confirmed, as S5 entailed a disastrous riot which would take weeks/months to restore.  Given the timeline is anchored to Piper Chapman's (Taylor Schilling) declared three-month sentence, the series will need to pick up immediately to capitalize and potentially keep Schilling on board through S7.  The closing moments of the S5 finale had the female prisoners lined up like cattle ready to be divided to various prisons, with 11 outliers unaccounted for on the grounds (people forget Taryn Manning's Tiffany was holed up in the guard house and Beth Dover's civilian Linda stood in her place).  That means the bloated cast will receive some welcome culling.  
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As capable and strong as majority of the cast is, there are too many characters cluttering the spaces for the contract performers.  Likely out is Diane Guerrero's Maritza, as Guerrero is now entrenched in a contract role on CBS' Superior Donuts.  Save for a few contract characters not included in the bunker's last moment, it is evident (most) of the characters in that room were the core ensemble needed to move forward.  And most in the last scenes, particularly Danielle Brooks (Taystee), Adrienne C. Moore (Cindy) and Uzo Adubo (Suzanne) anchored realistic roles in S5's outlandish premise.  
Also discussed is abandoning the timeline for the series, which technically is still in 2014.  Series creator Jenji Kohan has expressed desires to bring the series current into the post-Trump era.  Do audience members really need that reminder woven into this show!?  Like the post-Trump era, the 2014 timeline in OITNB already grapples with the same issues such as sexual misconduct, bigotry and economic depravity dividing the classes.  Leave Trump out of this series, as we already know Orange is the New President.
Why Season 5 Misfired.
And How the Showrunners Can Fix This.
Season 5 was not a terrible one, but rather uneven.  Following the brilliant, slow-boining tension os S4, the 2017 entry had big shoes to fill as the prison went on lockdown due to the riots.  The 72-hour compressed timeline was a bold and welcome stroke, as it helped depict this dramatic event as a gripping disaster vs. a plot-driven twist.  Where the series lost its grip was the departure from reality.  While the core black characters brought forth the welcome harshness of the prison system, the white populous threw caution to the wind with outlandish twists such as Red (Kate Mulgrew) jumping on couches and the trashy methheads running talent shows and attempting to chop off guards' fingers.  As entertaining as episode 9 was featuring a thriller/horror theme, it undermined Red as she openly exposed her prison family to danger.
The series needs to get back to its core characters and develop a realistic arc/umbrella.  S1 was about Piper entering prison, and S2 held uber-villainess Vee unleashing a vice crime reign.  S3 gave the floor to expanding the minor characters' backstories, and S4 brilliantly tackled prison overcrowding and brutality.  S6 needs a relevant arc to get back on track.  In order to do so, they need to fine-tune the flashbacks to compelling reveals vs. plot fillers.  Creator Jenji Kohan admits S5 was not its best as several powerful writers who crafted the tone moved up the ladder, and newfound writers filled their voids and attempted to deviate into sitcom laughs.  What they failed to recognize is the performers bring the laughs, not sloppy plot twists like Blanca (Laura Gomez) reenacting Home Alone. 
Image result for selenis leyva oitnbMany suspect the series will end after its 7th, as it will likely coincide with Taylor Schilling exiting the series.  However, if they want to keep the series rolling long after 2019, they need to get the series back on track.  Focus on the powerful, well-constructed black tribe.  Explore Red's family with greater detail, as they are capable of carrying their own show.  Place the spotlight on the show's other strong mother, Gloria (Selenis Leyva), who seems capable of carrying the Latina tribes.  TVRG will report on further developments as the year progresses in anticipation of OITNB's triumphant return.

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