Netflix's 'Orange Is the New Black': Here's how the third season compares to previous ones

The new season of the Netflix series 'Orange' was posted some hours before its planned release, delighting many fans. How does the new season hold up against previous installments?

Paul Schiraldi/Netflix/AP
'Orange Is the New Black' stars Taylor Schilling (l.) and Uzo Aduba (r.).

“Orange Is the New Black” fans got a surprise on June 11 when news broke that the full third season of the show was available on Netflix a few hours early.

According to Deadline, the new episodes were supposed to be released at midnight Pacific Time, but Netflix tweeted earlier that evening that the new installments were available for viewing. 

“Orange” stars Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, and Kate Mulgrew and is based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name of her time in prison.

Was it a good move for Netflix? Fans certainly seemed thrilled – Bustle writer Tanya Ghahremani wrote that the day on which the new episodes were released “is literally better than Christmas… Guys. Dreams do come true.” Others on Twitter agreed, with “Orange” fans writing,

Industry watchers seemed to view the early debut as a good idea, with A.V. Club writer Sam Barsanti calling it “a slick PR move” and CNN Money writing that the early release is “a way to further spread the word and heighten anticipation about the new season.”

An unnamed Netflix spokesperson spoke with CNN and would say only of the release, “I'm just going to let people enjoy the experience.”

As for reviews of the third season so far, reviews have been mostly positive, though some critics think the show’s plotlines aren’t different enough from previous seasons. The Hollywood Reporter writer Tim Goodman wrote that “this is one of those rare series where the characters are so strong and the audience so devoted to them that their mere appearance sometimes trumps whatever story is taking place… season three of 'Orange' kicks off as impressively, confidently, and excellently as ever,” while Entertainment Weekly writer Jeff Jenson wrote of the new season, “As always, I’m awestruck and delighted by the imagination [creator] Jenji Kohan and her writers have for their enterprise… for every bit that clunks, a dozen others sing. Season 3 of Orange might be a slow peel with some sour bites, but its overwhelming richness reaffirms its standing as one of television’s ripest, zestiest shows.”

Meanwhile, The Washington Post writer Hank Stuever wrote that “there is a feeling that the show has started to run out of ideas, especially when it comes to a long arc… ‘Orange Is the New Black’ is in a state of wheel-spinning and status quo, with its many characters repeating scenarios that have played out before. And that’s mostly fine since the women of Litchfield (and their guards) have become some of the best characters on TV.” However, Slate writer Willa Paskin took issue with the new season’s tone. “[The] new season that scampers closer than ever to making prison seem kooky and adorable,” Paskin wrote. “The depressing realities of prison are the subtext – but often only the subtext – of storylines played for laughs… Three seasons in, just about everyone on the show is loveable. This makes for a thoroughly enjoyable, but not particularly varied or gripping viewing experience: the show tugs the same heartstrings, works the same funny bones.”

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