Orange is the New Black first hit Netflix in 2013 and it almost instantly became a critically acclaimed hit show. The Netflix show written by Jenji Kohan was based off real-life inmate Piper Kerman's memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison. The show was praised for breaking boundaries regarding subjects like LGBTQ+ awareness and criticism of the United States' correctional institutions, all while maintaining a profile of the show's main vision. Well... for the most part.
While Orange is the New Black retained strong viewership up until its end in 2019, there was some criticism regarding what storylines were worth focusing on. Not only that, but as the show went on it became apparent that a lot of things didn't make a whole lot of sense. While it got a lot of things right, let's talk about some of the things that it got wrong.
10. Alex and Piper winding up in the same prison
In Piper Kerman's original memoir, she explained that the actual charges brought against her were for money laundering and drug trafficking. And yes, they were associated with her real-life relationship with a drug dealer, who was named Nora in the memoir. The fictional version of herself, Piper Chapman, was also charged with similar crimes and also re-visited her relationship with the fictional Nora, Alex Vause. Ultimately, fictional Piper served almost the entirety of her time in prison with Alex.
But unlike the fictional Piper Chapman, the real Piper wasn't still with Nora - who is a woman named Cleary Wolters in real life. In fact, she was never incarcerated alongside Nora. With that said, it was honestly pretty unrealistic that Piper and Alex were incarcerated not only at the same time, but in the same prison. But hey, it made for great TV.
9. Suzanne's entire storyline
Suzanne had quite the journey throughout the seasons of Orange is the New Black. While she started out as a clearly unstable inmate that was romantically interested in Piper, she became a prime example of how the prison system fails the mentally ill. As we learned more of her background, it didn't make much sense as to why she was in minimum security in the first place. Hell, or why she was in prison and not a psychiatric hospital.
We learned that Suzanne was incarcerated for kidnapping and (kind of) killing a young child. With this backstory, it was apparent that Suzanne wasn't just "crazy," but that she was legitimately mentally handicapped. The short-lived Litchfield counselor, CO Rogers, figured out very quickly that Suzanne was basically an impulsively violent, perverted six-year old in an adult body.
I always thought that Suzanne spoke on a lot of widely debatable topics, including the very real consequences of parents insisting their children are "normal" when they're not. It's a recurring theme with Suzanne's mother as she consistently came to her rescue both in childhood and adulthood. There was always this unknown deal the Warren's had with the prison as well that was in place to keep her out of the psychiatric unit. But even that doesn't make any sense because it's clearly where she belonged and despite who her parents knew, I don't think her behavior would have kept her in general population as long as it did. The fact that Suzanne just continued to become more and more unhinged was also really weird, and it speaks on what the show did to change inmates to fit whatever storyline was being told.
8. Sophia being Litchfield's Houdini
Laverne Cox broke a lot of barriers with her portrayal of Sophia Burset on Orange is the New Black. She became the first ever transgender actress to receive critical acclaim for her performance when she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 2014.
You'd think that this would have been reason to amplify Sophia's presence on the show. The reality is her presence was actually decreased, including whole seasons where we either barely saw her or didn't see her at all. It didn't make sense considering the social commentary that Sophia spoke to, as well as the storylines she was a part of, but it is what it is.
7. Linda being stuck inside Litchfield during the whole riot
"Linda from purchasing" was a fairly nonsensical character to keep in the prison, honestly. After being pressured by Caputo to spend a day at Litchfield, she gets accidentally caught up in the riot and decides to stay and disguise herself as an inmate. She becomes Boo's quick fling, comes up with an entire backstory, and somehow gets counted as a real inmate and sent to Ohio.
Linda playing the "counterfeit c*nt of Connecticut" was funny, don't get me wrong. But it just didn't make any real sense for her to not only be stuck in the riot, but to be stuck undetected. Someone at MCC had to know that Linda was not only missing, but that she was last seen at Litchfield.
6. Why didn't the real Jewish inmates take advantage of Kosher meals?
Judaism became a hot topic with the introduction of MCC's cheap, pre-bagged food products. As soon as the kitchen stopped being an actual kitchen, the meals were so unpopular that it created a spike in frozen Kosher meal requests. It even led Cindy down the path of fully converting to Judaism, as well as a bunch of non-Jewish inmates getting busted for eating Kosher meals.
But... what about the real Jewish inmates? Two of the show's main characters, Red and Nicky, were actually Jewish and never once were seen requesting a Kosher meal. Even after MCC introduced inedible food, Red protested the food and Nicky was seen still trying to stomach it. Even if they didn't keep Kosher as part of their daily diet, it never made sense why they didn't take full advantage of the Kosher meal perk.
5. Piper's jumpy brand
In season 4, Piper bit off far more than she could chew. She decided to become an informant for CO Piscatella and she framed Maria for the Whispers panty business. Not only did she frame Maria for the underwear, she also unintentionally started a "white power" movement within the prison. As a result, Maria turned Piper's cellmate against her, and branded Piper with a swastika.
With the help of Red, Piper's racist brand became a window... but that was really the last we saw of it on her left arm. In season 6, we see a small glimpse of the brand but it is on Piper's right arm.
4. Characters changing to serve storylines
Easily one of the most annoying things about Orange is the New Black is, as the show went on, a lot of characters changed for no reason. The show writers changed characters personalities, friends, and even entire backstories just to fit whatever was going on at the moment. It doesn't help that some of it contradicted itself.
One of the most obvious examples of this is Daya, who goes through a change almost every season. The girl who started as a nerdy comic-loving girl became a con artist who turned into a murderer who turned into a wannabe gang leader. It never fit Daya to begin with, but she just kept changing and changing.
Pennsatucky is another prime example of this as she pivoted from being an unstable religious fanatic to being somewhat likeable and helpful to her fellow inmates. And in one swoop, she was back to being a religious fanatic, only this time she was also turned back into a drug addict.
3. The lack of long-standing villains
Orange is the New Black developed a pattern with each season of introducing new characters to keep the facade of the "revolving door" of prison. With new characters comes new enemies, of course, but the show also had a pattern of getting rid of their antagonists too quickly.
Vee was introduced in season 2 and had the potential to be an unbelievably dangerous villain for many seasons to come, but instead they escalated her storyline and killed her in the same season. CO Piscatella was another one that could have lasted throughout the remainder of the series, but he was killed after barely just two seasons. The shift from minimum security to maximum brought back a lot of old blood with Barbara and Carol, but again, they were escalated and killed off within the same season.
The downside of this model is the show never really had a longstanding villain. Even regular characters who were antagonists ultimately redeemed themselves, or were released. The stakes never stayed very high for any of the inmates - especially when you consider the entirety of the first six seasons takes place over less than 11 months.
2. Frieda's pool bunker
I hate to say it, but Frieda's doomsday hoarder bunker inside of the prison was the dumbest storyline that the show ever came up with. It was dumb because it made absolutely no sense and was not realistic in any way.
It's realistic for a prison to have unused spaces and/or old facilities for programs that were discontinued, but the notion that an inmate could have gradually overtaken an entire unused swimming pool and filled it with contraband is just... not possible. I don't care how incompetent the staff of Litchfield was, there is no way Frieda could have secretly stored electronics, food, furniture, weapons, office supplies, and more without someone noticing at some point.
1. The distinct lack of orange
There isn't much to say about this topic except exactly what it is - for a show about orange jumpsuits, there weren't a lot of them. We saw plenty of khaki, blue, and pink, but the time the inmates spend in actual orange was very limited.