'OITNB' Is Back To Being Fun

by Rachel Simon

Like most people, I adored season two of Orange is the New Black. I spent last summer invested in the crazy, entertaining world of Litchfield and its inmates, following Piper's struggles and Vee's rages with wide-eyed attention. Yet on Thursday morning, when I saw the trailer for Orange is the New Black 's third season and realized it looked nothing like last year's episodes, I'll admit it: I was relieved.

Because while season two of the show was undeniably great, it was very, very dark. This was mostly thanks to Vee, the sociopath of an inmate who terrorized Litchfield for 12 episodes straight. She beat up Red, manipulated Suzanne, and, worst of all, caused Taystee and Poussey to get into a massive fight. Yet even without her, OITNB's second season was somber; there was Piper's time in solitary, Alex's betrayal, and the tragic backstories of inmmates like Lorna and Poussey. The series has always been described as a dramedy — whether the Emmys acknowledge it or not — but in season two, it tended to air on the darker side of that spectrum.

And while the serious nature of the episodes certainly provided some great television, it also got pretty depressing. Which is why I'm so excited that season three of the show, at least judging from the trailer, is going back to its true dramedy roots. Yes, there's dark stuff ahead, like Alex and Piper's less-than-happy reunion and emotional moments from Suzanne, Sophia and more, but for the most part, OITNB's third season looks downright jaunty. There's singing! And hugging! And kissing! Even Luschek, the awful head of electric, makes a few good jokes. This time around, it seems, OITNB is back to being the funny, cheerful series it was at its beginning.

Which isn't to say it's no longer a dramedy, of course. The trailer only shows a hint at what's to come, of course, and I'm sure that much of the upcoming season is filled with the chaos and frustration that colored last year's episodes. Yet there's no question that season three will be substantially lighter in tone. After all, Vee's gone — or is she? — and so the biggest fears of many of the inmates are no longer applicable. They still have their regular troubles, like getting written up and preparing for the outside world, to worry about, of course, but compared to the havoc Vee wreaked during her time on the scene, being a prisoner at Litchfield is far less terrifying than it was last season.

Just look at the two trailers, those for seasons two and three. In the preview for last year, everything from the dialogue — "I am a lone wolf, and a vicious one" — to the powerful song used symbolized a season full of darkness and despair. Yet in the trailer for season three? There's laughter, romance, and even a jokey tagline of "sorry, not sorry." This season of OITNB is going to be very, very different — and I, for one, couldn't be more excited for June 12 to arrive.

Images: Netflix (2)