To kick off the PaleyFest: Made In New York series, fan-favorite Netflix drama “Orange Is The New Black” was honored with having a panel for the fest’s opening night. Stars Taylor Schilling, Jason Biggs, Natasha Lyonne, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning and Kate Mulgrew joined showrunner Jenji Kohan and real-life Piper, Piper Kerman, at the event.
With the series finale of “Breaking Bad” so hot in everyone’s minds, talk turned to comparing “OITNB” to Walter White’s saga. Schilling in particular compared Piper to Walt, saying, “It’s exploding stereotypes … for a woman to be that deeply ambiguous is rare, brave and risky.” But Kohan doesn’t think the comparison is apt.
“I don’t set out to write heroes or anti-heroes. I write characters — flawed characters. It’s not about stereotypes and labels,” Kohan explains. “Piper is a flawed character. … One of the policies in the [writers] room is, if you can stick one character’s line into another character’s mouth, you are not doing your job.”
There wasn’t much talk of “Orange Is The New Black’s” upcoming Season 2, but there was a good deal of discussion for the way things could have been different in Season 1. For instance, it was confirmed that Laura Prepon, who plays Piper’s ex-girlfriend Alex, originally went out for the role of Piper. Kohan ultimately realized she wouldn’t be a good fit, though.
“The truth is, I don’t worry about Laura in prison,” Kohan explains. “I needed Piper as someone I would worry about. Taylor evokes a different response.”
A lot of laughs were had at the expense of Biggs, who was the one male on the panel. There also was a lot of discussion of how the show differs from Piper Kerman’s real-life experiences. The proposal scene, for instance, was pretty accurate to its real life counterpart, whereas Alex has turned into a very different character.
“It’s inspired by the book, not bound by it,” Kohan explains. “It’s a different medium, it’s a T.V. show –no, it’s a streaming show. That you can watch on any device!”
“Orange Is The New Black” Season 1 is available in its entirety on Netflix.