By Max Godnick
One of TV's most popular dramedies is about to get darker.
"I think the world is a little dark right now, and I think [series creator Jenji Kohan] is great at showing that in a TV form," said Beth Dover, the actress who plays prisoner-in-disguise Linda Ferguson on "Orange Is the New Black".
The show returns to Netflix for its sixth season on July 27. The series has competed as both a comedy and a drama at television awards shows, but has been veering more macabre. The latest installment will catch up with the inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary about one week after the prisoners' riot that erupted near the end of season five.
Early reviews describe the new season as the show's "most brutal" season yet. And that may be reflective of the broader TV landscapeーHulu's wildly successful dystopian drama "The Handmaid's Tale," now in its second season, made history with its Emmy win last year. Other shows like "Game of Thrones," "Mindhunter," and even ostensible comedies like "Barry," regularly deal in maudlin themes including murder and criminal psychology.
Dover was quick to point out that "Orange Is the New Black" does still make room for the levity and laughter that made it such a hit when it premiered in 2013, but she teased some of the bleaker subjects the new season will addressーmaximum-security prisons, among others.
(Spoiler Alert: Ferguson, the Director of Purchasing the company that owns the prison where the show is set, was forced to go undercover as an inmate in an attempt to survive the riots during last season's conclusion.)
The riot's aftermath will re-shift the show's focus to the corrupt bureaucracy of privately owned, maximum-security prisons. It's the latest turn in the series' long history of covering divisive social issues like homophobia and transgender inmates. Dover said she thinks the show is able to give viewers a new perspective on topics that may otherwise be neglected by the mainstream media.
"Even if that isn't your personal experience, you can look at these people who are in prison, maybe for small infractions, and sympathize and empathize and be like, 'Oh wait, maybe I am in a bubble.'"
For full interview, click here.