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‘Orange Is the New Black’ Boss Admits Season 5 Became ‘Fan-Fiction’

Orange Is the New Black Season 5 Jenji Kohan Writers
Netflix

We generally reward TV for taking big swings, but experiments in format can just as easily backfire. So it was with Orange Is the New Black’s ambitious, but rushed three-day Season 5 experiment, something showrunner Jenji Kohan admits suffered due to new writers.

You’re warned of light Orange Is the New Black Season 5 spoilers from here on out, but what began at Season 4’s powerful climax around Poussey’s death often lost the thread in Season 5. The three-day riot could focus on Black Lives Matter one minute, and a tongue-in-cheek Law & Order recreation the next. Season 5 ultimately ended with a tense raid and cliffhanger for next year, but a vast New Yorker profile of Kohan saw she and co-producer Tara Herrmann acknowledging Season 5 suffered a bit from turnover among the writers:

Kohan and Herrmann described the problem in similar terms. ‘We had lost a bunch of the original writers,’ Herrmann said. ‘It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was just a new dynamic—people were attached to the characters as viewers, not as creators.’ Kohan described some plots as ‘fan fiction.’ She often spoke, with nostalgia, of the show’s ‘O.G. writers,’ among them Nick Jones and Sian Heder, who now worked on ‘GLOW,’ and Lauren Morelli, who had her own Netflix deal. After Season 5, only two writers were rehired.

The profile itself offers only select hints at Season 6, which itself is likely to venture outside Litchfield after the inmates were rounded up and shipped off to new locations. The series is also renewed through at least Season 7, but was Season 5 a sign of Orange Is the New Black’s end?

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