Minimum Wage Workers Rejoice! Orange is the New Black Has Got Your Back

Orange is the New Black, aka “OITNB” to thick people, blessed the world last week when season 3 hit Netflix. But rather than reviewing the series as a whole, I just wanted to address one subplot that truly caught my attention.

First off, If you haven’t watched Season 3 yet, SPOILERS AHEAD!

Secondly… Well, that was depressing…

Obviously a show about a women’s detention centre isn’t exactly going to be a “feel good” romp – but the show has previously had a fair amount of humour scattered here and there right?

Don’t let the climactic frolicking in the lake blind you: My favourite character was raped and sexually humiliated, Mr Caputo has lost his staff, Piper has gone full blown Walter White, Washington is still an alcoholic, Sophia is stowed away in solitary, Alex has been left unresolved in some Schrodinger’s Cat scenario, and where has Jason Biggs gone?

But with all that spinning around my head, I would say this season was probably the best of the three – and that’s all thanks to the prison guards.


Relatable struggles

I’ve worked both back and front of house in numerous pub chains over the past 6 years, and I should clarify (for the sake of maintaining my employability) I’m not comparing working in a chain pub to working in a prison, no… But the struggles depicted in this third season were very relatable to a pub I once worked in.

We spent the better part of this season watching Mr Caputo struggling with the change of management of his prison – with a new board of directors purely driven on boosting profit margins to help increase share prices to make their assets more profitable on resale (bear with me, please).

With this comes the standard trials and tribulations forced upon the lesser paid employees who now have to struggle with cuts to their hours and changes to their contracts.

One scene in particular resonated with me hugely, as a minimum wage viewer, where Caputo challenges Danny on how reducing staff hours, whilst bringing in new staff, will only lead to the old staff to stop caring about their jobs. To which Danny responds with how more staff on fewer hours will help combat illegal contraband as well as “mishaps”.

But surely staff not caring about their jobs will lead to more mishaps, right?

Addressing a moment

Anyone who has worked for a less than decent company are more than aware of this. I remember working for one pub where none of the staff were getting enough hours to live off of. Upon pressuring our boss to get us more hours, we would be fed the usual “blame-shifting” nonsense that the faceless higher-ups have cut staff hours due to poor trade (despite being busier than ever) and wouldn’t you know it? A new person would be employed a week later – cutting staff hours further.

Despite Caputo’s best efforts, he ultimately loses his old staff as the budgeting incentives win out, and the regular faces can no longer afford to stay. 

It was ultimately the first time a television show had legitimately addressed, head on, a struggle that many of us undergo.

There was no unnecessary nuance, metaphor or subtext to the proceedings. Just a resounding literal “Fuck you!” to the corporate bullshit; pulling the curtain back on the many misconceptions plaguing companies into pushing profits over the wellbeing of their staff – killing off a basic fundamental right to a decent living being achievable through a minimum wage job market.

Bravo Orange is the New Black – you even got me to enjoy that annoying revolution song from Les Misérables.

What do you think of the new season? Have your say in the comments section below.