Orange is the New Black began as the story of a single unlikely prison inmate. Ten years after smuggling drugs for her girlfriend, Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) is sentenced to prison. By that point, Piper has abandoned her life of drug rings and lesbian girlfriends. She lives with her fiancé, Larry Bloom, in a New York apartment straight out of the Pottery Barn catalog. Her parents are wealthy WASPs from Connecticut. She thought she’d get away with this small skeleton in her closet, a blip from her past. But as every character on Orange Is the New Black knows, the past has a nasty habit of rearing its head.
Four seasons in, Orange is the New Black is now far more than Piper Chapman’s sob story. In fact, Piper’s now just a minor player in the Litchfield prison symphony. Each backstory reveals how the character lived in her pre-Litchfield days. While we see the crime she committed, we also see the circumstances of her life at the time. That’s because, of course, each character is so much more than a sentence delivered by a judge. She’s an individual — and, in many cases, the victim of injustice.
With so many Orange Is the New Black characters, it’s hard to keep track of all those histories. Here’s a quick summary of how each prisoner ended up in jail, though her sentence is only a minor piece of the puzzle.
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