Flashbacks are essential and integral to Orange Is The New Black. They are part of the make-up and fiber of the show. They’re useful to not only provide three dimensional shading to a character, but they help prop up the show’s themes and point of view. Orange is about showing us the inequalities of race and class within our country, and about how prison is the great equalizer. The prisoners are a purposeful melting pot, and by bringing to light the backstories of multiple individuals, the show is able to bring taste and color and richness into the dish. Outside of the Piper and Vause backstories- which the story has rightfully steered away from as it chugs along- getting to know where different characters and where they came from and how they existed outside of the Litchfield prison walls helped shape them when you saw them inside the walls. Unfortunately, as the cast of Orange gets bigger and bigger, and the need for side detours gets smaller and smaller, the flashbacks have become a distraction. Further, the writing for the flashbacks have become weaker as the show has progressed.
Within the show’s first two seasons, we got flashbacks of prisoners like Watson, the runner who just wanted to fit in, Red, the would be crime boss trying to rise through the ranks, and Morello, the woman who wants to be loved by Christopher. These flashbacks were well fleshed out which in turn gave the audience a deeper understanding of who they were watching. For the most part, these flashbacks were also mini-vignettes with their own arc and storylines that just happened to be spread out over the course of a single episode. Therefore, when the flashbacks ended, they provided their own emotional weight and punch. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case anymore.