The Beginner’s Guide to Orange Is the New Black

No doubt you’ve heard about the new season of Orange Is the New Black to be released this month. Now, maybe you’ve binge-watched the first two seasons or maybe you haven’t got round to it yet but either way, there’s a few things you should know before tuning into your Netflix account for the third season. Caution, there’s spoilers ahead!


What’s to be expected?

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Uncomfortable with the LGBT community? Take a step back, open your mind and try again. Set in Litchfield Penitentiary, a women’s prison in New York,  Orange Is the New Black is generous from the offset with LGBT thematics.

11Another thing to be noted is that Litchfield is far from the perfect prison with guards not caring about the well-being of inmates, smuggling drugs for sex, having unhealthy fixations and even developing romantic relationships with inmates. Turning a blind eye is something that happens a lot. After all, it’s easier to ignore an issue than face it. In a nutshell, Litchfield is no holiday camp.

Remember that OINTB is a kick-ass drama so whilst comic moments are scattered here and there, don’t be expecting to roll around on the floor in hysterics every episode.


Characters

Social media is obsessed with OITNB so it’s unavoidable to come across the show’s characters without even having watched it. However, this may lead to questions arising in your mind – who are these people?


Piper

Piper Chapman

Chapman is OITNB‘s main protagonist. Having self-surrendered for a crime she committed years ago, she smuggled $50,000 across the Belgium border for then girlfriend, Alex Vause. Following the end of their relationship, Chapman developed a romance with Larry Bloom in which they later became engaged. Choosing to wait for Chapman whilst she serves her time, Larry tries to resist the strain that’s put on their relationship.

When she first moves to Litchfield, Chapman really doesn’t help herself by saying the wrong things at the wrong time. First she insults the food which results in her being temporarily starved, then she manages to offend another inmate which results in attempted murder!


AlexAlex Vause

Vause was Chapman’s lover during her involvement with the drug cartel but the two were soon separated. Reunited in Litchfield, the two soon rediscover their love for one another.

Finding herself a job within the laundry room, Vause is often subject to conflict with her colleague.

After testifying against a member of the drug cartel, she was released on probation but following her freedom, Vause began to fear for her safety and eventually made her way back to Litchfield.


Red

Galina Reznikov

Commonly known as Red, Reznikov used to run a restaurant in New York before accidentally getting involved with the Mafia. After giving some good advice, she climbed her way through the ranks before eventually getting arrested.

Head of the kitchen at Litchfield, Red is also the key source of smuggled contraband and assists with offering inmates such items as care products and hair dye.

Seen as a mother figure by many of the women, a huge story arc concerns Red in the second season as an older African American inmate enters the scene, posing as a mother figure to many of the black inmates, creating an unsettling case of racial segregation.


Nicky NicholsNicky Nichols

Nichols is one of the first characters we meet in Litchfield having just gotten out of SHU (Solitary Confinement). As a heavy heroin addiction prompted the need for open heart surgery, Red helped Nichols come off drugs in prison and looks after her like a daughter.

Still having thoughts about using heroin, Nichols occasionally displays disturbing behavior such as when she stole a supply off another inmate, looking unstable.

Possessed by a high sex drive, Nicky has many intimate encounters with inmates but more so with Morello.



Lorna MorelloLorna Morello

Driver of the prison bus, Morello is the first inmate that Chapman meets.

Obsessed with her perfect wedding, something that’s mentioned many times throughout the course of the show, it’s later revealed that Morello’s groom is the man who put her to prison. After taking a restraining order out because he’s continually being stalked following their first date, Morello goes as far as planting a bomb underneath his car, threatening both of their lives.

Passionate about her Italian American heritage, Morello is known to be continually racist throughout the show but this doesn’t stop Nicky from being interested in her.


Crazy EyesSuzanne Warren

With many bobbles in her hair, Warren is one of OITNB‘s most noticeable characters. Nicknamed Crazy Eyes, Warren targets Chapman upon her arrival and becomes mentally attached. When she’s ultimately rejected, Warren takes revenge by urinating next to Chapman’s bunk bed.

With her constant outbursts of uncontrollable behaviour, the guards only know if Warren’s okay when she points to her eyes, thus the nickname Crazy Eyes.

Whilst it’s easy to presume that her crime involved a violent outburst, the full details haven’t yet been discovered – is this something to be explored in the third season?


DayaDayanara Diaz

Arriving in Litchfield with Chapman, Diaz is one of the first characters we meet. Upon arrival, she’s slapped by a woman who is revealed to be her mother.

After being approached by her mother, another inmate claims to be Aleida’s daughter which instantly creates tension between the three characters.

Diaz’s love interest happens to be John Bennett, a C.O. at Litchfield. After asking for a piece of gum, the two hit it off to create a Romeo and Juliet romance.

Like Crazy Eyes, Diaz’s origin story is unknown – could this be another big reveal in the new season?


John BennettJohn Bennett

Despite being new to the prison, Bennett is much kinder and caring towards the inmates.

In love with Diaz, he often leaves notes for her and puts the storage cupboard to good use when they’re together.

When half of the prison is ill, Diaz discovers that she’s pregnant which leads a family friend to appear at Bennett’s door to scare him into looking after the unborn baby.

Upon Mendez returning to Litchfield, Bennett’s mentality changes in which he adopts some of Mendez’s aggressive personality.


MendezGeorge Mendez

Mendez, otherwise known as Pornstache, is one of the corrupt Litchfield guards in which he loves to rile up the inmates with the dominant power that drives him.

Being one of the dirty guards, Mendez smuggles drugs and various other contraband into the prison in return for sexual favours.

A pregnant Diaz allows herself to have sex with Mendez in order to frame him for rape and to give an explanation for her pregnant state. Unfortunately, he isn’t fired but instead falls in love with Diaz and is put on unpaid leave.


Now you’ve had the chance to recap on happenings from the first two seasons, don’t forget that new episodes are added to Netflix on Friday 12th June!

What are you looking forward to the most about the third season?

Comment with your thoughts.

Jack Kirsop 

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