'Orange Is the New Black'
Netflix, June 17th
"It's sardine time, bitches. We a for-profit prison now." The inmates of Litchfield are back after Season Three's cliffhanger finale, and as the newly privatized penitentiary keeps getting more overcrowded, tensions are on the rise. Joe Caputo (Nick Sandow) takes over as the new warden, with Taystee (Danielle Brooks) as his secretary, but despite his cooler-than-ever handlebar 'stache, he's in over his head. "A hundred new inmates!" he fumes. "I got Inmate-palooza over here! I'm drowning in a sea of orange!"
The crowded cellblocks bring new problems, from snoring to skinheads to slap-happy new guards. The racial conflicts heat up, as Dominican prisoners square off against the Puerto Ricans. ("Dumb-in-a-can." "Fuck you Bacardi bitches!") Taylor Schilling's Piper is relishing her new role at the top of the prisoner hierarchy, now that she's set up her lucrative sideline of pimping used underwear — "I am the prison pussy panty business!" — but that just makes her a bigger target for anyone who wants to take her down. And since she can't stop saying shit like "I'm a gangsta, like with an 'a' at the end," that means pretty much everybody as usual.
Blair Brown raises hell as everybody's favorite new inmate, a celebrity cooking guru who seems to be based on Paula Deen. But O.G.s like Kate Mulgrew, Uzo Aduba, Jessica Pimentel and Samira Wiley continue to amaze; no other show has so many brilliant actors going so deep on such unforgettable characters, with backstories that can break your heart. As Diane Guerrero's ever-awesome Ramos says, "If I hadn't buried my feelings so deep that they only come up when I watch Stepmom, I would totally be tearing up right now."