Frank Underwood might get the billboards as Netflix’s front-and-centre POS, but the under-the-radar, over-the-barbed wire fence impact made by Jenji Kohan’s incarceration creation, Orange is the New Black, is as much of a success story for the online streaming behemoth.

In fact, it made more of a statistical impact on viewing figures than both House of Cards and Arrested Development during its first week of release.

With Season 3 about to drop on June 12th, forcing legions of devotees to stage their own curtains closed, binge-watch sentence of their own, so as to consume the Litchfield Penitentiary goings-on before #OITNB spoilers flood social media, we take a look back at our favourite moments from the first two years of what we hope is a long stretch with Taylor Schilling and Co.

Sufficed to say, there are spoilers locked away in this list.

Sophia’s FlashbackSeason 1, Episode 3 “Lesbian Request Denied”

OITNB - Sophia and Crystal

A gem of an episode with which to begin, any number of scenes could have been our jump-off point, in particular those between Piper and her newly infatuated stalker, Crazy Eyes, but it was the back-story of Sophia (Laverne Cox) that provided the emotional core.

Orange has a great way of stripping preconceptions from the caricatures it initially presents, the aforementioned Crazy Eyes is also afforded a touching flashback, and with sex-change patient, Sophia, the writers have created a truly memorable female character.

Put through the wringer by the system, denying her drugs with the cruellest of put downs “Why would anyone give up being a man?”, persecuted by the guards, and seemingly at war with her ex-wife, the catharsis is delivered in the form of an in-front of mirror scene during which she is trying on a dress for the first time, whilst her wife stands beside her offering advise. “Shit. I look hot”.

The ChickenSeason 1, Episode 5 “The Chickening”

OITNB - The Chicken

Piper’s Moby Dick comes in the form of a symbolic chicken, much like The Fly in Rian Johnson’s stand-out episode of Breaking Bad; this dastardly poultry serves as a prison spanning metaphor for multiple characters.

Appearing at a narrative crossroads for Piper, she first spots the bird whilst seeking a moment of quiet away from the chaos, but as her hunt becomes more manic, and the other inmates learn of the sighting, she soon discovers that the chicken means something different to everyone.

It’s a defining moment of epiphany for her; she realises that it isn’t just about her, that she can’t keep thinking like she’s alone. This runs parallel with one of Piper’s first big fork-in-the-road choices, that by lying to Larry (Jason Biggs) about being locked up with Alex, she actively chooses her situation inside the prison over her normal life. It’s the chicken effect.

Taystee’s Farewell PartySeason 1 Episode 9 “Fucksgiving”

OITNB - Piper and Alex

A pivotal episode, one which offers up Alex’s origin of wrongdoing, as well as a potential abortion attempt, but it’s the gathering to celebrate the reluctant departure of Taystee which acts as the catalyst for what unspools for the remainder of season 1.

Kelis’s Milkshake is to blame. Why? It triggers an impromptu dance that morphs from embarrassing giggles to something increasingly sexual between Alex and Piper, that results in her being thrown in the hole for “lesbian activity”.

It’s another brilliant example of the shows ability to flick the switch between comedy and drama at the drop of a hat, without it being tonally jarring.

You can win Season 2 of Orange is the New Black on Blu-ray below.

orange is the new black

The Christmas PageantSeason 1, Episode 13 “Can’t Fix Crazy”

OITNB - Christmas

Litchfield’s festive pageant is such a brilliant clusterfuck of mayhem that it almost suffocates the dramatic beats of the Season 1 finale. There’s Piper beating seven shades of lunacy out of Pennsatucky whilst Healy turns his back, and Alex telling Piper never to come to her again, but amongst this is a moment indicative of what the show does so well, stripping back the crazy for some emotional heft.

As Crazy Eyes suffers from stage fright, an angelic voice emerges from an unidentified source, only for the reveal to be the hitherto mute inmate Norma. It acts as a beautiful moment of calm and character payoff, juxtaposed perfectly with the bloody storm that is about to take place in the courtyard.

VeeSeason 2, Episode 2 “Looks Blue, Tastes Red”


It’s career day at Litchfield, which means a rowdy beauty pageant, mock interviews, and a little bit of social commentary on the US Prison system that arises from the fact that the day is being run by a huge cigarette production company.

Most notable though is the introduction of OITNB’s big bad, Vee Parker. The flashbacks focus on Taystee and her relationship with Vee back-in-the-day, and mirror her successful progression through the Job Fair competition. It’s clear that Vee was a manipulative negative in Taystee’s life, so when she wins the mock job for Phillip Morris and her head is held a little higher, the last person she wants to see standing in the doorway is her old boss.

It’s a gut punch moment to once again stifle any potential joy for one of our favourite characters.

I Love my F*cking Grandmother – Season 2, Episode 8 “Appropriately Sized Pots”

OITNB - Piper

As a lead character, Taylor Schilling’s Piper is as divisive as any of her fellow inmates, often reacting with a hair pulling immaturity and selfishness that makes her downright unlikeable. Much of this is dulled in season 2 to avoid a repeat of the punishment which saw her shipped to County.

So when she is granted furlough to visit her dying grandmother, it bumps her back to public enemy number one, and the target of whispers and dirty looks. Season 1 Piper would have probably sulked about it, or moaned on the phone to Larry, but here, and for one of the few times we’re empathically on her side.

She stands and delivers a passionate diatribe that ends with the line “I Love my fucking grandmother” before receiving handful of slop to the back of the head.

The Bathroom Breakup – Season 2, Episode 9 “4 OZ of Furlough”

OITNB - Bathroom Breakup

The foundations of the show condensed into five brilliant minutes; sex and lies. Whilst at her grandmothers wake, Piper does what she does best, flaunts the rules by drinking on her furlough. Larry, who by now has cheated on his jail bird with her best friend, has spent most of his time awkwardly sidestepping her, before being dragged into the bathroom for some non-conjugal sex.

Mid-act revelations prompt one of the best one-liners (amongst other things) to come out of Pipers mouth, all of which leads to a parting of the ways that has been inevitable since the gate slammed shut in season. As is the standard, it’s executed in a funny and rather sad fashion.


A Brewing Storm – Season 2, Episode 12 “It Was The Change”

OITNB - Storm

It’s something of a familiar plot-device for a scripted hour-long; a natural disaster. In this case it’s a downgraded hurricane forcing the main players to spend time in such close proximity, and there’s a Shakespearean level of conflict confined to the upper levels of the prison as the season comes to a head.

Red is at loggerheads with Vee over her attempted shivving, Taystee is being ostracised by her friends, there’s a pregnant Diaz having a panic attack, but amongst all this, and much like the majority of stand-out moments in this show, the dramatic elements are alleviated by an impromptu sing-along to Lisa Loeb’s “You Say”.

Pop Culture ReferencesSeasons 1 and 2

OITNB - The Help

Throughout both seasons of razor-sharp scriptwriting there are littered more pop-culture references than a Joss Whedon brainstorming session. Here are just a few of the best zingers;

“Inspector Gadget was not a good detective; he just had a lot of stuff. Plus, he had Penny and The Brain helping him”

“It’s something Clive Owen says in The Croupier. Fuck Clive Owen”

“Even Paul McCartney would be all up in this tin of tuna”

“When I say prove it, I meant in a Coach Taylor kinda way”

“This aint the fucking Help bitch”

“You want a book to read, or a step stool? Cos I tell you right now, you aint stepping on The Goblet of Fire”


Regina Spektor’s Theme Song – Seasons 1 and 2

And finally, it’s a difficult thing, the theme song. A tune that becomes so intrinsically linked with watching your favourite shows; think The X-Files, Game of Thrones, and Cheers.

However, it has become even more problematic for the modern viewer thanks to the way we binge watch our TV Shows, especially with the creation of 10th Wonder of the World, Netflix (I can’t remember which number King Kong was).

Let’s be honest, the enjoyment you got from humming the GOT theme wore off about halfway through season 3, and pressing play just as the LOST logo stopped spinning became something of an art form.

After a few episodes you’re conditioned to skipping the intro. So its hats off to Regina Spektor’s perfect little ditty, “You’ve Got Time”, with its show encompassing lyrics, brief running time, and lovely little abrupt crescendo, which as of the season 2 finale, is yet to be skipped.