In 2010, Piper Kerman published her book Orange Is the New Black: My Year In A Women's Prison, describing her experiences at a minimum-security federal prison. That memoir got the attention of Netflix, who decided to take that story and create a TV series based upon it.
The first season of Orange Is the New Black on Netflix premiered in 2013 to both critical and fan acclaim. The series navigated the tricky waters of race relations, problems with the prison system, women's issues, and trans rights. It has brought viewers into the world of Litchfield Penitentiary through the eyes of the main protagonist Piper Chapman. Piper's story is loosely based on Kerman's own experiences, but Netflix seems to have gone out of its way to create a self-absorbed, entitled white woman that many fans just actually hate.
At first, Piper Chapmain was supposed to act as the lens through which viewers saw the prison. After six seasons, however, her role has become more murky, with the character becoming someone that many fans just can't understand. There is also a lot that doesn't make sense about the character. Her choices and personality seem to require a better explanation-- one that Netflix hasn't yet provided. With one final season left in the series, will the show ever figure out how to handle the problematic character that is Piper? Or will she prove to be equally nonsensical in season 7?
Here is Orange Is The New Black: 20 Things that Make No Sense About Piper.
20 Piper was only supposed to be in prison for 15 months
Orange Is the New Black premiered in 2013, meaning that it has been a total of five years since Piper first arrived at Litchfield Penitentiary. However, her original sentence was only 15 months. Sure, she did get an additional six months added on for bad behavior, but that's still only a total of 21 months, or less than two years.
Just how long has she been in prison?
It's hard to tell exactly how slow the pacing of the show is, but in theory, Piper should have been let out long before season 6. She did eventually get her freedom in the season 6 finale, but that happened long after it should have.
19 She has a brother, Danny, who is never seen
Although it only got mentioned a few times, Piper has two brothers, rather than just the one-- Cal, who fans regularly see on the show. Danny Chapman is also Piper's brother, but the only appearance he has ever made on the series is in a photo seen in the Chapman family living room. Cal mentions that Danny is a doctor; the only sibling in the family that ever made their parents proud.
When Piper got furlough to attend her grandmother's funeral, he was also missing. He never gets mentioned again, and it's like he never really even existed. Maybe season 7 will have Piper reunite with him now that she's out of prison and back in the real world.
18 Alex ends up in the same prison as Piper
In the memoir Orange Is the New Black, Piper Kerman ended up in prison for money laundering due to her connection with a woman named Nora Janson. Alex is the show's version of Nora, but in the book, Nora and Piper were never in the same prison together.
In reality, that is not quite how the criminal system actually works.
However, on the Netflix TV series, Piper and Alex end up in the same prison, where they rekindle their romantic relationship. That's not what would happen-- and indeed, it didn't. It never made sense that the two would get that kind of reunion, but much of the show's plot revolves around that.
17 The window tattoo on her arm
In season 4, Piper inadvertently becomes the leader of the whites at Litchfield, essentially making her the leader of a group of racists. Although she eventually decides she doesn't want that, it does show an even nastier side to the character that fans had seen yet. However, she gets called out for her antics and ends up getting held down and branded with a anti-semitic tattoo.
Ashamed, Piper has another inmate turn it into a window. There's just one weird thing about the window tattoo: in season 4, it's on her left arm, but in season 6, when fans see it again, it's on her right arm. After that, the window tattoo seems to be pretty much forgotten.
16 She's in season 7
It's no big secret that most Orange Is the New Black fans hate Piper. The character became less popular with each passing season, leaving many to wonder if the writers would ever get rid of her. At the end of season 6, Piper finally got released from prison and let out into the real world, but that doesn't mean that she's gone for good. It seems that the final season will spend some time focusing on Piper's adjustment to the world outside of prison.
Although Piper is finally out of prison, she will still play an essential part in season 7.
It makes no sense for a show about prison. Just because the show started with her doesn't mean it has to end with her.
15 Piper wasn't separated from the inmates after the riot
One might think that after a prison riot that essentially shuts a prison down, the inmates involved would get separated and sent to separate facilities. In Orange Is the New Black, the Litchfield inmates all ended up at the same prison.
How does it make sense to keep these women together when it seems that they all conspired to create a riot? That is not how the real world works, but Piper ended up at Max with pretty much the same group she was with at Litchfield. This doesn't make a lot of sense, but Netflix did not want to break up the community it created, and so the showrunners decided to depart from reality.
14 Her orientation
When it comes to proper LGBT+ representation on the show, there are some things the show gets right. Take Sophia, a trans woman struggling to find her place in a women's prison. When it comes to Piper, though, the show seems to want her status to appear murkier.
The truth is that Piper is 100% bi.
She was attracted to and married Larry, a man, but she also has a relationship with two women on the series: Alex and Stella. This means that Piper is bi. Yet, the series seems to shy away from that term, as if it doesn't even exist. It's not that Piper is unsure, either: she understands she is attracted to both men and women.
13 Her relationship with Alex is toxic
Piper and Alex are often held up as some sort of gold standard for couples, or at least couples in prison. The truth is that their relationship is toxic. Sure, they got "prison married" at the end of season 6, but that doesn't mean that they're in for a romantic happily ever after, regardless of what Piper might believe.
Not only was Piper in prison because of Alex, but Alex betrayed her at one point, which added more time to Piper's sentence. The two also spend a lot of time lying to each other, but for some reason, they keep getting back together, regardless of how they often do each other wrong. Why does Piper keep going back to Alex?
12 She's the lead character, but the least interesting
At first, Piper was the lens through which the viewers could see the prison system. She was a doe-eyed, innocent suburbanite who never understood just what goes on behind bars. After some time, though, it seems that the writers couldn't figure out what else to do with Piper, especially when so many other more interesting characters surrounded her.
Throughout the seasons, Piper remained a significant character, although fans could tell that writers struggled to give her interesting things to do. She was often so dull that many probably just fast-forwarded through her scenes with the intent of learning more about the others in prison. The supporting characters had far more compelling stories.
11 Her gang leader past is forgotten
Let's not forget what happened in season 4. Piper aligned herself up against the Latino women and became the leader of the racist white girls in prison. Although the series painted Piper as being utterly oblivious to what she was doing (organizing the whites against the other races), how could she have been?
Piper knew what she was doing when she set herself up as their leader.
She bragged about it, but it seems that the series seems to have forgotten that she did that. There was never any resolution for her becoming a better person after that, either, save for changing her tattoo into a window.
10 She suddenly went rogue in season 3
During the first two seasons of Orange Is the New Black, Piper was pretty much an innocent, and she did what most first-time offenders do: she tried to keep to herself, stay away from drama, and do her 15 months as quietly as she possibly could. That's why it didn't make a lot of sense that she decided to turn rogue in season 3.
Not only did she became the leader of the whites at the prison, but she also engaged in an illegal business scheme where she was selling undergarments to the public. There was never any real explanation for this complete 180, and her behavior in season 3 left many fans scratching their hands. Sure, prison changes people, but not like that.
9 She dumped Alex for Stella
It seems like Piper already has no idea of what she wants in a lover. First, she was with Alex, but when she left that lifestyle, she ended up with Larry. Then she ran into Alex again in prison and the two reunited. Then, when the two were on the outs, Piper left Alex for Stella.
It was already established early on that Stella was a person Piper should not have ever trusted.
Piper was aware of this. Stella even told her as much. But Piper still got involved with her, and in the end, Stella betrayed her by stealing all the money from the undergarment business. At least Piper had a chance to get even before Stella got shipped off to Max.
8 Alex and Piper were not really a couple
Although much of Piper's story in Orange Is the New Black TV series revolves around Piper and Alex as a couple, the truth is that in the book, and in reality, they were not, at least not in prison.
The real-life Alex Vause, whose real name is Cleary Wolters, said that the only time they were ever even in the same prison was when they were in a detention center for five weeks to testify against a co-conspirator. During that time, the two were not involved. Wolters even confirmed that during their time together before prison, they were not really girlfriends, but "friends with benefits."
7 Her undergarment business
In season 3, Piper starts a business with the help from her brother on the outside. This business took in a lot of extra money for the inmates. However, the show didn't do its research because when inmates make money like that, the transactions go through a special kind of company before it gets deposited into commissary accounts. Transferring money like that means that such a company can take up to 45 percent.
Most of the money that Piper made on her undergarment business would have gone towards that company, rather than into the commissary accounts of her and her fellow inmates. As a result, Piper's business would have never really made much of a profit.
6 She doesn't act like a first-time offender
When someone who is a first-time offender arrives in prison, it's likely that they will keep to themselves and try to make as little of a wave as possible. Prison is a scary place, and when one does not know what to expect, that would typically be what happens. However, as pointed out by a real prison inmate, Piper doesn't do this.
Piper talks way too much after just arriving, and that means that she ends up saying a lot of stupid things.
Jeff Smith, who spent a year in federal prison, wrote for Buzzfeed: "I didn’t say more than ten words in my first month and never spoke unless addressed, which seemed true for most first-time offenders."
5 She claims to have no idea what she was smuggling for Alex
Before prison, Piper got involved with Alex, in both a romantic and business sense. This is what eventually landed her in jail. Although Piper never asked about what kind of work she was doing for Alex, it was likely she very well knew they were smuggling illegal substances.
Although Piper is naive, she is certainly not that stupid.
Piper continually said that she had no idea what it was they were smuggling, playing the innocent card. This doesn't make a lot of sense because there is no way Piper would not know what was going on, having spent so much time with Alex on a personal, as well as a professional basis.
4 She has experienced very little character growth
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Piper is that, although it sometimes seems like she's growing as a character, she isn't. Not only did she do a complete 180 in season 3 by becoming the leader of the white women of the prison and running a undergarment smuggling ring, but she still seems not to have become any more aware of things by season 6.
She still is unable to refer to herself as bi. She is still naive enough to think that she and Alex are perfect for each other, and even insists on a prison marriage before her release. She still seems to believe that a game of kickball will somehow make her the savior of the prison.
3 She lied under oath to protect Alex
Piper landed in prison because Alex turned her in. That's the first thing fans need to remember. So it makes no sense that when Piper had a chance to testify in court about Alex's role in the smuggling ring, she chose to lie to protect Alex. Love is one thing, but that is just plain stupid.
What's even worse is that Alex threw Piper under the bus with her testimony, which got Piper more time in prison.
How does that make any sense? What's even worse is that the two ended up "prison marrie" in season 7, even after all that betrayal. Piper is smart, so why would she ever trust Alex again?
2 She once called herself “gangsta”
Season 3 was a nonsensical one for Piper. The character went off on a bizarre story arc that had her suddenly becoming more important in the prison. She took on a leadership role with the whites, revealing that she is probably a lot more racist than she ever let on. She started an undergarment smuggling ring. She got involved with Stella, who she knew was bad for her. And she started a war between the whites and Latinos that resulted in her getting a racist brand on her arm.
During this time, she had the gall to refer to herself as a "gangsta." Really, Piper?
1 She complains all the time
From seasons 1 through 6, Piper complained all the time. She complains a lot about how hard prison is. Considering that she knowingly committed an illegal act, what did she expect?
With so many other women around her with much harder lives, her complaining is hard to swallow.
Piper is still an entitled white woman with everything waiting for her on the outside. Many of those women had nothing (as we saw with Taystee's brief taste of freedom). When Piper and Alex are separated, she complains about that. Meanwhile, Gloria has a son in intensive care that she cannot see. Piper needs to suck it up.
What else doesn't make sense about Piper in Orange Is the New Black? Let us know in the comments!