Is ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Cancelled or Renewed After Season 7?

When the next new episode of Orange is the New Black drops on July 26, it will be both a beginning and an end. It will be the beginning of the seventh season, which will also be the final season.

When the news was announced last fall,  series creator Jenji Kohan said: “After seven seasons, it’s time to be released from prison. I will miss all the badass ladies of Litchfield and the incredible crew we’ve worked with. My heart is orange but fade to black.”

We’ll take a look at the impact and history of the women in prison show, and we’ll cover what loose threads the series could (should?) tie up before lights out time.

‘Orange Is the New Black’ is inspired by real-life events

Uzo Aduba
Uzo Aduba | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The real-life Piper Kerman became romantically involved with a heroin dealer working for a drug kingpin. She pled guilty to money laundering and drug trafficking charges. As a result, she served 13 months starting in 2004, mostly at a minimum security prison in Danbury, Connecticut. She wrote about her experiences in a memoir, which had the same name as the TV show. She lives in Ohio, teaching writing classes at area prisons.

Kohan, who also created Weeds, found the book and was fascinated. Kohan said: “I went after it and had to talk Piper into letting me do it. But, I screwed up the interview. She came in and I was supposed to sell myself on why I should do this. Instead, the entire time, I was like, ‘Well, what happened to this character? Do you still know her? What are the toilets like?’ Apparently, because I had all these questions and I was enthusiastic, that’s what made her say yes to me,” she said.

When the show came out in 2013, binge-watching was pretty much unheard of. Unlike most TV shows, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black had entire seasons available all at once, so now viewers didn’t have to wait a week to find out what happened next. Now the only waiting was the months between seasons. The series transformed Netflix, which used to be known for its little red envelopes with DVDs, into a TV powerhouse. It had 27 million subscribers in 2013. Now it has more than 130 million.

What ‘Orange Is the New Black’ needs to tie up

The Hollywood Reporter suggests the show needs to address as many as eight issues. The major plotline, of course, will be Piper’s release from prison, which happened at the end of season six. Getting released from prison can be as impactful an adjustment as entering prison, and the show naturally wants to explore that.

Executive producer Tara Herrmann said: “In my mind, it feels like our Piper has sort of been an Alice in Wonderland, and now she’s somersaulting out of that world. I do think it will take time for her to sort of get her bearings.”

Other inmates won’t have as easy a transition as Piper, assuming they have a transition at all. Taystee was ratted out by Cindy, who identified her as the one who shot and killed a corrections officer during the riot. Now Taystee has been sentenced to life in prison. Daya got addicted to heroin, and she too is facing life in prison, although we know that she is not guilty of the murder of which she was accused. But even her own mother has abandoned her.

Suzanne — also known as Crazy Eyes — may be the key to both Taystee and Daya’s fates. Aduba tells THR of Suzanne’s storyline: “Imprisoning people who are battling mental illness is like treating a foot when you broke your arm; you’re not treating the right thing … do (convicts) really stand a chance of rehabilitation if what they’re doing is paying for their crime?”

How does the cast of ‘Orange Is the New Black’ feel about the final season?

Whatever happens to the inmates, the cast and crew will be sad to see Orange is the New Black go.  Taylor Schilling told THR: “We’ve had a lucky run, but there’s always this part that’s sort of ready for the end. You go in and you begin it ready for the end. It’s a very bittersweet and also beautiful way to exist in the world.”

In its farewell video, the cast promises, “Season 7, you will not be disappointed. It is a season you will not forget. We’re going to give you everything and more that you could have ever wanted.”

So hopefully, Orange Is the New Black won’t be like that other big show that seemed to displease most people with its final season.