Orange is the New Black Season 4 premieres this week, mamas; here are our Top 10 Favorite Characters on a show chock full of them
“Haven’t you ever killed someone before?”
“No, have you?”
Where my fellow Orange is the New Black fans at? Are you as psyched as I am, mamas, that one of the most unique and daring shows on “television” (Netflix, to be specific) will be returning for Season 4 on June 17?!
Has any other show ever passed The Bechdel Test with such flying colors? Is any cast on television more refreshingly diverse, or showing women in more (REAL) shapes and sizes? For my money, no other show so expertly maneuvers between baldly hilarious and heart-breakingly tragic at the drop of a dime (or turn of a screwdriver, as the case may be). Who would’ve guessed a show about a women’s prison would be such a pop culture phenomenon?
To celebrate the premiere of OINTB Season 4, I’ve put together a list of my Top 10 Favorite Characters (with a couple spoiler-free sneak peeks at what we can expect for them this season). Check it out and let us know if you agree. And if you still haven’t seen this show, mama, that’s the beauty of streaming. You’ve got three whole days to catch up! And by the way, we’re giving away five free 6-month memberships; just enter your deets in the form below for your chance to win!
Everyone’s favorite commissary minder only pops up every few episodes, but she’s generally the [deadpan] voice of reason and a fearless equal opportunity offender. In the first five minutes of the Season 4 premiere, for instance, she perfectly speaks for the audience and cuts Piper down to size. She’s also in a great scene involving cuttlefish ravioli (just go with it).
Comedian Lea DeLaria has perhaps the most funny lines of anyone on the show (explaining prison overcrowding to Yoga Jones: “Think of it as a mandala…of pussy”), but added new shades of depth to her character last season as she forged a real friendship with Pennsatucky and flashed back to her complicated issues of family and sexual identity.
Black Cindy’s another character who’s generally there for comic relief (and one of the few without a particularly sympathetic flashback/backstory), but her quest to convert to Judaism was one of my favorite plotlines in season 3, and her monologue explaining to the rabbi why she wants to convert (“I think I found my people”) brought tears to my eyes. Ironically in season 4, she gets a Muslim cellmate.
If prison is truly about redemption and rehabilitation, Litchfield has served formerly remorseless murderer Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett well. She’s evolved from Season 1 villain to a sympathetic and thoughtful character, and her unlikely friendship with Big Boo was one of the highlights of Season 3 (her flashback episode, “A Tittin’ and a Harin’”, may have been the best).
Pragmatic and no-nonsense, Gloria is the mama grizzly whose maternal instincts tragically landed her in prison, and led to a clash with fellow caring parent Sophia in Season 3. I like that she’s generally the voice of reason to all the ridiculous hijinx taking place around her, but she’s never, ever short on a snarky comback (I so envy that talent!).
Poussey (named for the town in France where her father was stationed, and don’t you forget it!) is among the best at effortlessly jumping the comedy-drama fence, whether she’s doing the inimitable “Amanda and Mackenzie” bit with Taystee, or sadly pining for love in a hopeless place. Few characters have shown greater emotional depths, and in my estimation this is down to Samira Wiley’s amazing acting skills.
Is anyone tougher than Red? We still don’t know exactly what she’s in for but it’s clear she rules with an iron fist whether dealing with her husband and sons, expertly manipulating the guards, or making something out of nothing in her beloved kitchen. Every scene just seems a little bit better once Red gets involved, and she’s up there with Chang and Gloria for her zingers. It’s amazing that Healy of all people seems to be her slight weak spot.
While Piper was meant to be the “Trojan horse” who viewers entered Litchfield with and saw through her eyes, Daya was right alongside her in the van on that first day, and has had a far more interesting journey, whether reconciling with her mother (and getting a crash course in motherhood herself), or engaging in a truly warped prison version of Romeo and Juliet with Bennett. She doesn’t say much – seemingly preferring to illustrate her feelings – but is among the characters I care about and root for the most.
OINTB’s eternal optimist and ball of positive energy, Taystee, in my opinion, is kind of the walking embodiment of the show itself: she’s been through a lot of horrible s**t and that’s made her the strong person that she is, but she also uses humor and the power of human connection to keep pressing forward. Like Red, she just makes every scene that she’s in better. And good news: she’s got a super fun new job in Season 4 that makes the most of her unique talents.
Uzo Aduba is so talented that she’s now won Emmy Awards in both the comedy and drama categories for playing lovable Suzanne. Her non-sequitur lines are perfectly delivered and laugh-out-loud funny, while the childlike hurt, rage and frustration she expresses in unexpected moments is nothing short of heartbreaking (as was her flashback). What I wouldn’t give to read a few pages of her coveted novel Timehump! I’m happy to report that she’s still going strong with the quotables in Season 4. Among my faves:
Taystee: “You know what’s better than being famous?”
Suzanne: “Uh, pizza, daisies, any animal, a warm bath, graham crackers and icing sandwiches…” (She goes on for another minute or so)
Honorable Mention: Janae, Sophia, The Golden Girls, Yoga Jones, Caputo, Nicky…basically anyone but Larry, Piper or Vee (somehow Piper manages to get even more annoying this season – I didn’t think it was possible!).
Orange is the New Black Season 4 premieres THIS FRIDAY, June 17 mamas! Since the prison population has basically doubled (as we saw in the final moments of Season 3), get ready for even more new characters and interesting backstories. And if none of this means anything to you and you’re an OINTB newbie, enter our giveaway below for your chance to win one of five free 6-month Netflix subscriptions!