12:07pm PT by Jackie Strause
'Orange Is the New Black' Is Getting a "Facelift" in Season 6
Orange Is the New Black might indeed be getting a makeover when it returns for its sixth season.
A cliffhanger finale left the fate of 10 fan-favorite characters up in the air, as well as the possibility that Litchfield Penitentiary would no longer serve as home to the prisoners on the Netflix dramedy. The fifth season told the story of a prison riot — stretching across all 13 episodes — incited by the murder of inmate Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley), that culminated in the prisoners losing their season-long standoff in devastating fashion. As riot police blew up a bunker holding the 10 prisoners in question, the rest of the inmates were bussed off to two undisclosed prisons — presumably taking the series to new locations and possibly without its entire lineup of core characters.
"I'm always excited about every season and what's going to happen, but this season, I feel like it’s an amazing facelift," Orange star Adrienne C. Moore said while stopping by The Hollywood Reporter's offices. Moore, who plays Black Cindy, is one of the 10 prisoners in the bunker.
Filming on the sixth season began in late July, and though none of the characters in question knew what was in store when they spoke to THR about the finale, it was assumed that most of the characters, like Moore's Black Cindy, would be making it through to the next season. But they didn't know for sure until they received that first script.
"Toward the end of season five, there were some people that were agreeing to stick together, and there were some people that were looking out for themselves," explains Moore of the schism the riot created within the prison, with some women exploiting their newfound power while others opted to keep the peace. "We’ll see the repercussions of those decisions in this next season."
The Jenji Kohan-created series always keeps its plot under lock and key, but with so many questions swirling around the sixth season — Orange has been renewed through seven — the stars are also being kept in the dark as they go episode to episode.
"They don’t want to tell us, and I asked them, 'Well, don’t you guys want us to know so we can go into the episodes [knowing] what we’re snaking toward?'" says Moore. "They said, 'No, because part of it is your discovery as the episodes go. If we tell you everything upfront, then it might alter or shift or change how you might approach something if you didn’t know what was going happen. ... We want you guys to take the journey and see what you discover that we may not have thought about as we were writing it.'"
Moore's "facelift" comment seems to support a theory previously proposed by THR that if Kohan does decide to split the cast into two new prisons — as one of the riot policemen all but assured in the finale — she could use the opportunity to lose some of the fringe characters and refocus the show onto the core group.
A revisiting of the showrunner's track record helped shed light on her possible intentions for the future of Orange. Kohan, who created Showtime's Weeds, saw Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) burning her home and community to the ground in the third season. Though it took place earlier in the series (which ran for eight seasons), the move signaled a reboot of sorts.
Kohan also told THR that the Orange timeline prevented her from infusing any of the current climate into the last season, but that she would be looking for ways to take on Trump with season six. Orange's world is only 10 months into Piper's 18-month sentence, setting the show in the past and before Trump's election. "Do we just throw the timeline out the window?" Kohan asked, referencing frustrations with their slower world. "Season five is season five, but for six, I don't think anyone can help but incorporate some of the feelings associated with what's going on and the divisions and all that stuff."
Moore said she is excited to see how Kohan will see that through, considering Orange has always blazed a trail when it comes to social issues.
"I’m curious to see as the season develops how they will factor in some of the things that are going on in our culture, and maybe even our world," Moore shares. "And then also how we’re able to still make it relevant to today. So like I said, I’m still trying to figure out where it’s going."
When asked to describe the season in character, Moore as Cindy had this to say: "Y’all, this next season gonna be lit. Take that however you want. Lit."
Watch the full video above.