Orange Is the New Black is arguably the most popular original programming Netflix has ever made. Having recently finished its sixth season, OITNB has traced Piper Chapman's journey through the American penal system since it debuted back in 2013. Piper (Taylor Schilling) has dealt with all kinds of trials and tribulations over the course of the series, and at the center of it all has been Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), Piper's smuggling ex-girlfriend who got her into jail in the first place.
While the story is fictional, it is loosely based on Piper Kerman's book of the same name, and Alex is based on Kerman's real-life lover, Catherine Cleary Wolters. Piper (both the real and fictional versions) went to jail because she was an accomplice of her girlfriend. TV's Piper was surprised to find that they ended up in the same prison. Since then, the two have been enemies, friends, lovers, and rivals, and romance finally won out when they were "prison married" in the sixth season.
It should be no surprise that there are more than a few things that make no sense about this romance. Neither Piper nor Alex is above lying and tricking to get their way, but neither likes to be lied to. They've each betrayed the other, left the other, and frustrated the other, as their love has been anything but a smooth ride. Alex and Piper's relationship is the foundation the show is built on, so it's worth examining exactly what doesn't work about it.
Here are 20 Things That Make No Sense About Alex And Piper's Relationship.
20 Alex’s mysterious absence
The first few episodes of OITNB's sixth season tried to create tension and mystery in a somewhat cheap way: Piper couldn't figure out where Alex was following the riot. Going through multiple episodes' worth of subplots where she thinks Alex escaped or even perished, Piper is put through the ringer only to find out Alex had been injured and recuperating in a hospital.
Alex's absence didn't really make sense-- somehow nobody knew what happened to her, plus her botched surgery explanation was pretty contrived-- but the show's writers had to scramble to cover for the real reason she wasn't appearing. Laura Prepon had given birth right at the start of production, and needed several weeks before coming back.
19 Their relationship timeline
There is one constant refrain among fans of Orange Is the New Black when it comes to plot holes: the timeline has never made sense. The show, now six seasons in, has packed in tons of storylines, several emotional twists and turns, and more than one pregnancy, so it's flat-out impossible that it has all taken place over the span of just two years.
That's right, technically Piper Chapman's prison sentence was originally only supposed to last 15 months. While she had some time added on for assault, her prison stay can't be much more than 24 months. That means that all of Alex and Piper's tumultuous relationship, all the ups and downs, have happened over the course of a few months. It just doesn't hold up.
18 ALEX SNITCHED ON PIPER AND LIED ABOUT IT
Maybe we're old-fashioned, but we probably wouldn't recommend dating the person who got you embroiled in a criminal enterprise then ratted you out to the cops. That's exactly what Piper does, gets into a relationship with Alex after she gets her arrested and convicted.
Not only that, Alex lies about what she did for quite some time after the two meet up in jail. This sets their reconciliation back some time, as they can't truly make peace with one another until Alex is actually honest. It's not the last time Alex is manipulative on OITNB, but to start a relationship with the person who won't even fess up to the way she betrayed you is not exactly the best dating advice in the world.
17 They betrayed each other even after getting thrown in jail
What, did you think getting into jail would be the only time these two betrayed each other? A relationship that starts with betrayal is likely to continue with betrayal, and Piper and Alex sure didn't buck that trend. Any fan knows that the two have had their ups and downs over the course of the show, but at some point you have to wonder how anyone would end up together with this history.
Beginning with Alex snitching on Piper and continuing through their flings with other people, Alex flipping her story to get out of prison while telling Piper to lie, and Piper telling the cops of Alex's plan to break parole, the two of them have proven themselves to be ready to betray one another for personal gain several times over.
16 PIPER'S FLING WITH STELLA
Ruby Rose's debut on OITNB caused a huge stir among the fanbase and the media in season three, and her character Stella Carlin drove much of the main plot of that season. Piper teamed up with Stella in a scheme to sell the inmates' clothing, and eventually became romantically interested in her.
Piper then two-timed on Alex with Stella, a move that was obviously always going to end badly. Sure enough, it did, with Stella stealing from Piper and Piper betraying her by planting contraband in her bunk. This whole season, then, felt like something of a cul de sac for Piper's relationship with Alex, as she took broke up with her just because she fancied a new inmate. It doesn't seem like the stuff the strongest relationships are built from.
15 The real-life Alex has issues with the show
Alex Vause is one of the most central characters to Orange Is the New Black because she is based on Piper Kerman's real-life ex who started a smuggling operation, Catherine Cleary Wolters. However, Wolters is a little annoyed with the way the show has portrayed her life, starting with how they portray her relationship with Piper.
Wolters made it clear in an interview that she never lured Piper the way the show implies she did, and their relationship was never as serious as the series makes it out to be. She described the situation as closer to friends-with-benefits than committed girlfriends, and she stated that she definitely wasn't Piper's first girlfriend. The reality was that the relationship was much less romantic and Piper was much less innocent than in the show.
14 Alex’s fling with Nicky
The end of OITNB's first season found a whirlwind series of events between Piper and Alex, with Piper seeming to choose Larry over her. Alex then revealed some truths to Larry about their relationship, and he ended their engagement. Alex then chose to have a brief fling with fellow inmate Nicky instead of comfort Piper.
This is the only time Nicky and Alex get it on in the series, and it clearly only exists to briefly hurt Piper. Nicky and Alex remain friends throughout most of the show, but they get intimate here for almost no reason-- just because it slightly relates to Alex's feelings about Piper. It's kind of a cheap move and the writers seem to realize that, given that they never went back to this well.
13 Getting prison married
Piper's relationship with Alex has gotten noticeably warmer over the last few seasons, and that all came to a head when Piper proposed to Alex in season five. This led to the couple getting "prison married" in the next season, just before Piper gets released from jail.
The main question here is why didn't the two just get actually married? It's not like prisoners are forbidden from getting legally married to one another. Plus, the actual ceremony was really jokey and awkward with Nicky and Morello presiding over it. The two said some nice things, but some fans thought it felt just a little underwhelming, considering how much the couple has gone through to get there.
12 THEIR FUTURE WITH PIPER OUT OF PRISON
Orange Is the New Black ended its sixth season with a surprising development: Piper Chapman gets out of jail. The season ends ambiguously, with no clear indication of how she'll handle life on the outside, or even what she'll do. One thing fans had to wonder was, what will happen with her relationship with Alex?
The show's producers don't plan to write Piper out of the show in its final season, but it's hard to imagine exactly how they'll generate conflict and interest with Alex in jail and Piper out of it. It's a tough storytelling problem, and there's no indication of what the writers' solution will be. For now, fans just have to wait.
11 They never rekindled their romance in real life
Catherine Cleary Wolters doesn't just have problems with how the show romanticizes and sensationalizes her life, she also points out that it isn't based in truth at all. Piper Kerman never got back together with her ex-girlfriend in prison. She wouldn't have had much of an opportunity-- they were only actually in the same facility for a total of five weeks.
Wolters and Kerman never completely forgave one another for their past, and they certainly didn't have a tumultuous romance spanning several years in jail. In the short time they were in jail with one another they did manage a bit of closure, but they both agree that the Piper/Alex relationship is an invention of the show.
10 They hated each other
Alex and Piper's romance has been one of OITNB's most central plot lines for the entire duration of the series, and while things may be lovey-dovey between them now, it wasn't that long ago that they were hissing vitriol at one another every chance they got. As each character stated multiple times on the show, the two characters hate each other as much as they love each other.
We're not just saying that, as no recap can tell the story of this relationship without hitting on the many, many times they say they hate one another. At this point, with the relationship much nicer and more stable, fans who went through those anger-filled earlier seasons have to wonder how likely it is that their attitudes would change so much.
9 PIPER ENDED UP WITH LARRY IN REAL LIFE
Piper Chapman's ex-fiance Larry Bloom didn't last long in the Netflix adaptation of Orange Is the New Black. His big-hearted attitude toward Piper faded quickly, and he spent most of the first season embarrassing himself. It was a good choice to get him out of the way so the show could focus on Piper's in-prison relationships.
It was a different story in real life, though. Unlike the show, Piper Kerman never got back together with Catherine Wolters, and she went back to her boyfriend Larry Smith. Not only that, Piper and Larry married in 2006 and have been together ever since. It's just something to keep in mind when Piper Chapman says her prison wife is the love of her life.
8 They’re both manipulative
This will seem like we're stating the obvious, but in general it's a bad idea to do things you know your significant other dislikes. Alex and Piper, though, seem to have never gotten this message, as they each do the thing the other hates: manipulate each other. The two characters both hate to be manipulated, and yet they're both characterized by their willingness and ability to manipulate people.
Just like both Piper and Alex have demonstrated that they're willing to betray one another, they've each demonstrated that they can and will exploit the other for their own benefit. This is a constant through the series, as they're seemingly always ready with some white lie to tell to twist situations to their advantage. It may not be malicious, but it doesn't make sense for a committed relationship.
7 Piper thinks she’s a better person than Alex
There's no objective way to say which OITNB character is the worst, most morally reprehensible of the bunch. After all, every inmate has their own story, and nearly all of them have gotten up to some questionable activities. What makes Piper Chapman so irritating is that despite being at least as bad as everybody else, she still thinks she's a better person than all of them.
This is a recurring theme throughout the show, especially in the early going. What is especially galling is that Piper thinks she's a better person than Alex, when anybody with eyes can tell they are two peas in a pod. While this might frustrate viewers, it honestly doesn't make sense that it never drove Alex completely away.
6 Alex’s second jail stint
Alex left the show for the vast majority of season two of OITNB, but she returned in season three and has been a mainstay ever since. Whatever the writers' reasoning for Alex's absence in that season, their explanation for her return is shaky beyond belief. After Piper snitched to the cops that Alex was planning to skip town, Alex gets sent back to the exact same prison.
While some prisoners spend tons of time in one facility, most inmates get moved from place to place. In real life, Piper Kerman and Catherine Cleary Wolters both saw the inside of several different prisons. It's more than a little unrealistic that the justice system would send Alex back to the same prison, especially given her history there.
5 Piper’s privilege
One of the most enduring themes of OITNB is that Piper Chapman doesn't understand the realities of the women around her in the Litchfield Correctional Institution. This is because she is constantly blinded by her own privilege, being an educated cis white woman from a family with a comfortable income.
Her background-- and frequent inability to sympathize with others' backgrounds-- brings her into conflict with almost every character on the show at one point or another. The series has shown that it also annoys Alex. Given that she has stated she can't stand Piper's privileged, classist outlook, you would think it would cause more problems in the relationship than it does.
4 Fans don’t like them
As in most television fandoms, the fans of Orange Is the New Black have spent considerable time and effort deciding which couples and characters on the show are the best ones. While Piper and Alex's relationship is certainly the most central to the show, they almost always rank near the bottom of the heap in these rankings.
So many articles have come out during the show's run calling for the ending of this specific relationship. Fans may love the show, but they love to hate on Piper and Alex. It doesn't help that they tend to feel that the show sidelines more interesting couples and plotlines so Alex and Piper can get yet more screen time.
3 They work better when their love is “forbidden”
In the early seasons of Orange Is the New Black, Piper and Alex were a fun relationship to explore not just because of their tangled history together, but also because Alex presented an alternative to Piper's boring boyfriend Larry. The attraction between them was exciting at least partially due to its forbidden nature.
Now that Larry is out of the show and Piper and Alex have no obstacles to their romance, the relationship doesn't have the same sizzle. Fans have largely grown tired of the romance, and it's not just because of Piper and Alex's questionable moral choices, it's also because they just aren't as interesting together as they were when they weren't allowed to be together.
2 Piper's “misinterpretations”
For better or worse, the point-of-view character in OITNB is Piper Chapman, and while this has some advantages, one of the disadvantages is that she misunderstands things a lot. A surprising amount of the plot is generated from Piper (or other characters) getting the wrong idea, and it's started to get tiresome.
Some misunderstandings make sense for the show-- Piper and Alex not seeing eye to eye in the early goings, for example-- but when Piper repeatedly makes mistakes based on her misconceptions the show suffers. There was the time she and Alex said different things in a trial thanks to a miscommunication, or when Piper thought Alex had perished because she didn't just ask people which woman people were talking about. At some point, she has to wise up.
1 They’re the least interesting couple on the show
Orange Is the New Black is a Netflix show, and that means that it's practically mandatory for them to include a ton of relationships throughout the series. What this means for Alex and Piper is that they have a lot of competition for the title of "best couple," and they appear to be losing.
While almost nobody would argue that Alex and Piper are the worst couple on the show (Coates and Pennsatucky, anybody?) they have the distinction of being the least interesting. Fans pretty much get this relationship now, so it's basically old hat. We'd rather more time was spent on the other inmates and their love lives, rather than get more of the same from Alex and Piper.
What else doesn't make sense about Alex and Piper's relationship in Orange Is the New Black? Let us know in the comments!