Remember a few years ago when you could easily start a conversation with any queer woman, anywhere, simply by asking “So how about Orange is the New Black?” These days, you’re likely to have better luck with “What made you stop watching Orange is the New Black?” Everyone had their breaking point. For my partner, it was the two scenes of sexual assault in one episode. For me, it was Poussey Washington, may she come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. I haven’t watched a minute of OITNB since I found out she died – a friend warned me about it in advance, so I haven’t even seen the episode that includes her murder. But I believe in redemption, and reconciliation, and that none of us are beyond hope. So here are some suggestions for Orange is the New Black if they want to win back my heart.
- Give Sophia a girlfriend.
- Bring back Miss Claudette.
- Seriously, give Sophia a girlfriend. With ALL the queer-ass sexual shenanigans on this show, the trans lesbian – who happens to be portrayed by the show’s widely acknowledged breakout star – is the only chick who can’t get any? How much must Sophia suffer? How much Piper/Alex angst must we sit through? GIVE. SOPHIA. A. GIRLFRIEND. Give her emotional support and deep, nourishing intimacy and awesome sex. Sophia deserves it. WE deserve it. Give Sophia a girlfriend.
- No one ever calls Suzanne anything but “Suzanne” ever again.
- Piper gets released and disappears seamlessly back into her artisan-soap-making life. She has always been the least interesting part of the show; she’s only there because Jenji didn’t trust her audience to care about the stories of poor and working-class and Black and Latina women unless we saw them through the eyes of a privileged white lady, but, in fact, we do care about them. You know who we don’t care about, though? It’s Piper. She can go.
- No more “humanizing” backstories for the COs. Corrections officers are not the ones who are systematically dehumanized, and they are not the ones in need of affirmation.
- Add a new character. Her name is Carmen de la Pica Morales and she is in in prison for masterminding, via a complicated scheme carried out by all her friends and ex-girlfriends, the murder of minimally acclaimed writer Jenny Schecter. She and Sophia become girlfriends.
- One whole episode is just Larry getting punched in the mouth. It’s a musical episode.
- Janae Watson comes out as bisexual.
- Vicky Jeudy breaks character to come out as bisexual.
- Anybody at fucking all comes out as bisexual.
- To make up for five years of bi erasure, someone yells “BISEXUALITY GODDAMN EXISTS” in every episode of the next season. Not Piper, though, because Piper is gone. It could be Brook or Lorna. There could be a new character whose only role is to shout “BISEXUALITY GODDAMN EXISTS” in every episode. I’m not picky.
- Kill off Ezra Fitz. I know he is not an OITNB. I don’t care.
- Hire Black and Latina and formerly incarcerated writers, and I don’t mean one or two. Have a writing staff that vaguely resembles the demographic makeup of your cast and/or the actual incarcerated population of the United States. Give one of them a cameo as Sophia’s girlfriend.
- Nothing bad ever happens to Taystee ever again. She is released immediately, given one hundred million dollars, and spends her days eating King Cones and snuggling kittens.
- Poussey rises from the dead, not a zombie but an avenging angel cloaked in righteousness and fire. She strikes down the wicked and protects the weak. She and Sophia become girlfriends.
- Sophia and Brook work through their competing feelings for Glorious Undead Poussey with openness and mutual respect. All three of them live happily ever after in a healthy, stable, very gay poly triad. Taystee and her kittens visit frequently. No one ever hears from Piper again.
What would OITNB have to do to win you back?