About the Show

Orange Is the New Black

Based on Piper Kerman’s 2010 memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, the show follows Piper Chapman as she begins a 15-month sentence at New York’s Litchfield Penitentiary for a crime she committed a decade ago. Once there, she comes face-to-face with her former lover, who is also the woman whose testimony helped convict her, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon). She meets an eccentric group of fellow inmates, too. The show follows Piper as she serves her sentence but also gives way to flashbacks featuring both Piper and the other inmates, revealing life before Litchfield. Orange Is the New Black tells a striking tale about the hardship, loyalty, and love that result from the shared experience of paying your dues.

Season 1

Piper Chapman, a self-proclaimed “nice white lady” who sells homemade soap and lives in upper-middle-class New York City, self-surrenders to Litchfield Penitentiary for a crime she committed 10 years ago: carrying a suitcase of money for her drug-smuggling then-girlfriend. Giving up hot showers, bathroom doors, and sleeping inside the bed, Piper struggles to adjust to her new life. Along the way, she gets starved out, accidentally gains a prison wife, and confronts a volatile enemy serving in the name of God. There’s also Alex, her old flame, who is ever-present, unlike fiance Larry.

Season 2

The second season delves more into the lives of Piper’s fellow prisoners, but not without showing the consequences of her dustup with Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) and what it means for Piper’s prison sentence. The return of past inmate Yvonne “Vee” Parker (Lorraine Toussaint) splits the prison into two warring factions. Power is shifted for both the inmates of Litchfield and the prison’s administration as Assistant Warden Natalie “Fig” Figueroa’s (Alysia Reiner) world begins to crumble.

Best Episodes

Season 1, Episode 3: "Lesbian Request Denied"
Directed by Jodie Foster, this episode delves into the backstory of transgender prison hairdresser Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox).

Season 1, Episode 5: "The Chickening"
In one of the funniest episodes yet, the prison gets overexcited when Piper spots a chicken in the yard.

Season 1, Episode 13: "Can't Fix Crazy"
The prison prepares for its annual Christmas pageant as Piper sulks from recent Larry-and-Alex-related events.

Season 2, Episode 4: "A Whole Other Hole"
This heartbreaking episode shows a different side to inmate Lorna Morello.

Season 2, Episode 13: "We Have Manners. We're Polite."
Vee attempts to throw faithful Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) under the bus once things begin to point toward her in the investigation of who assaulted Red.

Bits and Pieces

  • Laverne Cox’s twin brother, M. Lamar, plays the transitioning Sophia in flashbacks.
  • Although the show is based on Piper Kerman’s 2010 memoir, almost all of the names have been altered. “Pop” became “Red,” “Delicious” became “Taystee,” “Nora” became “Alex,” “Sister Platte” became “Sister Ingalls,” etc.
  • The real Larry Bloom wrote a Modern Love piece for the New York Times titled “A Life to Live, This Side of the Bars,” as opposed to the campy “One Sentence, Two Prisoners.” Kerman enjoyed her fiance’s piece, which, unlike his TV counterpart’s, didn’t make fun of her fellow inmates.
  • Jason Biggs references his connection to the American Pie movie series in the first episode with the line “I tell you everything. The webcam horror.” Natasha Lyonne also costarred in the series. Deborah Rush (Piper’s mother, Carol Chapman) appeared in American Wedding.
  • Kate Mulgrew played Capt. Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek, but in Season 1, Episode 6, Nicky references Star Trek’s Spock, and Red doesn’t understand her.
  • Taryn Manning is a cousin to professional quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning.
  • Nicky’s scar down her chest is from actual heart surgery that Natasha Lyonne had in 2012.
  • The opening credits to the show feature shots of real women who were incarcerated, including Piper Kerman herself.