The Orange is the New Black Season 4 trailer is here — and if the 2 1/2 minute spot makes one thing crystal clear, it's that Piper (Taylor Schilling) isn't the star of the show anymore.
In fairness, Piper's role has been diminishing ever since Season 2, and for good reason: Litchfield is chock-full of intriguing characters, and the WASP-y bath soap entrepreneur is (no offense to Schilling) one of the least compelling of the bunch. I think her less-central storyline also speaks to Jenji Kohan's stated purpose around the time of the show's Season 1 premiere (via Collider:)
“…when I read Piper Kerman”s book, I thought, 'This is a way into a really interesting world. It”s the yuppie”s eye view to get you in there.' If you go to a network and say, 'I wanna do prison stories about black women and Latino women and old women,' you”re not gonna make a sale. But, if you”ve got this blonde girl going to prison, you can get in there, and then you can tell all the stories. I just thought it was a terrific gateway drug into all the things I wanted to get into.”
Kohan's strategy has clearly worked, with fan favorites like Taystee (Danielle Brooks), “Crazy Eyes” (Uzo Aduba), Sophia (Laverne Cox) and “Black Cindy” (Adrienne C. Moore) being afforded more screen time in subsequent seasons. The show has become a true ensemble piece, not to mention a rarity in a TV landscape that has historically ignored the stories of women — particularly women of color — who occupy the “lower rungs” of society.
While I personally felt that Season 3 represented a drop in quality for the series, I continue to appreciate what it's trying to do, and in many case has done brilliantly. In any event, I'm looking forward to the new season, not least because the trailer raises a lot of questions. Here are a few, for starters:
1. Where the hell will we find Alex (Laura Prepon) post-that Season 3 cliffhanger in the greenhouse? Aside from a quick voiceover (“Can you keep a secret?”), the bespectacled former drug smuggler is nowhere to be seen here (though based on Prepon's Instagram feed, we definitely know she's in the new season).
2. Is Nicky (Natasha Lyonne) returning from Max, and how?
3. Will the absent-from-the-trailer Bennett (Matt McGorry) return to live up to his responsibilities as the father of Daya's (Dascha Polanco) baby, or has he been permanently exiled to Shondaland?
4. How much of the season will Sophia spend in SHU?
5. Why is “Crazy Eyes” in that hospital bed?
6. Is the trailer setting up the beginnings of a Litchfield race war?
7. Is THIS Alex? I can't tell.
Orange is the New Black Season 4 premieres June 17 on Netflix.