In decidedly unsurprising, yet still welcome news, Netflix has renewed its hit prison dramedy Orange Is the New Black for a third season. The 13-episode order comes one month prior to season 2's debut on the popular streaming service, mirroring the pre-renewal of fellow Netflix series House of Cards that took place prior to February's launch of its second season.
While Netflix doesn't publicly release exact viewing data for its original programs, reports have pegged Orange Is the New Black as the streaming giant's most watched show, eclipsing even the slightly more critically beloved Cards for that honor. In that respect, there was never really any doubt that OITNB would get picked up for another season, it was really just a matter of getting all the T's crossed and all the I's dotted.
One thing that wasn't certain until just recently was whether series co-star Laura Prepon would be returning to the regular rotation. Prepon's Alex Vause was one of the most featured cast members during season 1, primarily due to her sometimes rocky relationship with focus character Piper Chapman.
Prepon disappointed many by initially bowing out almost entirely from season 2, at first agreeing to appear in only one episode. Thankfully for fans, Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan was able to work out an expanded arrangement with the former That 70's Show star, and Prepon eventually ended up signing on for four episodes out of the soon to premiere second season.
As of April, it has been confirmed that Prepon will indeed return to series regular status for season 3. In fact, it was Prepon herself that first broke the news of Orange Is the New Black's renewal - with a caption on Instagram:
Netflix has since backed up Prepon's statement.
One might be tempted to point out that this indirectly spoils whether Alex will live or die during season 2, but it's not like OITNB is a real death-heavy show (although some of the inmates at Litchfield might wish they were dead at various points).
With March's announcement that Orange Is the New Black will compete at the Emmys as a comedy, Netflix finds itself in the enviable position of possibly winning the awards for 'Best Comedy" and "Best Drama" in the same year. House of Cards is considered a strong contender for the drama crown, while OITNB is a virtual shoo-in for at least a nomination in the comedy category.
Cards already holds the distinction of being the first non-TV series to win a major Emmy award, so if Netflix wins one or both of the big categories, this could really spell a changing of the guard for the biggest ceremony in small-screen entertainment.
Orange Is the New Black season 2 premieres Friday, June 6 on Netflix.