In the spirit of being the patron saint of disliked television characters (I’m in a lost, but awesome chapter, of the Bible), I’ve decided to take up the cause of the Piper Chapman (played to the hilt by the gorgeous Taylor Schilling). Before I jump into an impassioned defense of a beautiful, blonde woman, I must acknowledge the perils of writing about a show that has all it’s first season up on Netflix for a couple months now. Dear reader, I understand if you are one who practices restraint when it comes to being given a whole season of television or a giant chocolate cake; but, unlike you, I will simultaneously eat that entire cake while binge watching every available episode. I will also bemoan my hateful stomach and the fact that I have to wait an entire year now for season two of OITNB (I’m too busy digesting cake to type the whole title). I know I did this to myself. So, if you are daintily watching each episode and are only halfway through, bless your heart. I will be dropping some spoilers on you. And yes, my shit-eating grin is covered in frosting.
OITNB received much praise for its incredibly talented, predominately female cast. Everyone I talked to has a favorite character. Maybe it’s Taystee or Poussey because both women bring the humor consistently and their friendship brings the heart. Tell me you didn’t tear up a bit when Taystee did her little dance with Poussey watching through the window. It was a Jack to Rose “I’ll never let you go” moment in my book.
Or maybe your favorite character is Red because she’s a tough nut and she starred in “Star Trek: Voyager.” Or Crazy Eyes because who knew she could get down on Shakespeare? Or Pennsatucky because it’s Taryn Manning the go-to early ’00 sidekick of every musician who wanted to act. Or Yoga Jones because she was Patty Mayonnaise!
Personally, I adore Nicky, because not only do we look alike but because she can teach Lindsay Lohan a thing or two about being a phoenix from the tabloid flames.
Nobody’s favorite is poor Piper. And I think that’s totally intentional. Isn’t kind of wonderful when the character we love isn’t the upper-class, blonde, Caucasian, sorority girl type? Even show creator Jenji Kohan stated that Piper’s character was her way in to being able to write a show about the female prison system. Piper’s the sexy Trojan drug mule in this whole television show selling-game.
It’s not just the fact that Piper’s beautiful that gets viewers and television execs through the prison gates; it’s that I bet many of you readers know (and sometimes unwittingly love) a Piper. She’s that girl that smuggled drugs after college because she wanted a “neat” adventure and someone to pay extra attention to her. She’s the girl who needs to be simultaneously loved by multiple people and is hurt when they both demand monogamy. A Piper girl is potentially getting rich off of making soap and lotion in Brooklyn, while you’re unemployed and trying to no longer live at home with your parents. I’ve known several Pipers through my formative years. I’ll admit it, I’ve been the sidekick friend to many of them. I always introduce them to men and women who fall immediately in love with them and so regret my unintended matchmaking.
I think there’s a Piper girl fetish for some people: the desire to take care of a woman who always finds herself in dramatic situations, even when she is capable of saving herself. Wouldn’t a dark little sick part of you relish hearing that one of the Piper girls you know is getting shipped off to a women’s prison for a little over a year? As long as they don’t get shived in the shower, I’d hope they’d come out of the experience a little more grounded to the world around them.
This is why I love the character of Piper. I don’t relate to her, but I sure know a whole bunch of them. They’re entirely magnetic and try their darndest to be sweet. Everything seems to float delicately into their laps. I love them and want to support them and they make me absolutely green-eyed jealous and annoyed. I love that I get to watch all the Piper girls I know go to prison and learn some humility through this character. And wouldn’t you know it, she gets to be right in the middle of a pretty extraordinary group of woman. Damn her that that’s her punishment for this.
You can be my Piper if you follow me on Twitter.