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Jun 2016
Interviews, News, Orange Is the New Black  •  By  •  0 Comments

Taylor Schilling was recently interviewed by the Toronto Sun wherein they discussed how dynamic her character Piper Chapman is in ‘Orange Is the New Black.’

Taylor Schilling’s eyes went wide when I uttered the following words:

“You’re Seinfeld.”

“Ooohhh! Stop it!” said Schilling, excitedly. And she didn’t mean “stop it” as in, actually asking me to stop, but more along the lines of, please go on and explain.

Well, in Orange is the New Black, Schilling’s lead character, Piper Chapman, started out as the “normal” one amid a cast of crazies at Litchfield Penitentiary. But as time has gone on, we’ve discovered that Piper can be as extreme as the rest of them.

Now think of Jerry Seinfeld in his self-titled legendary sitcom. Different type of show, sure, but the same pattern applied. The Jerry character began as the “normal” one, but as the show progressed, in his own way Jerry displayed as many idiosyncrasies as any of the others.

“Do you mind if I actually just change my entire perspective on my job?” Schilling said. “You have no idea what a big deal it is, what you just said. You have no idea actually what a big deal it is for me.”

As Orange is the New Black returns for Season 4, Friday, June 17, on Netflix, Schilling definitely understands and appreciates Piper’s “Seinfeldian” position in the grand scheme.

“I love the idea, because Seinfeld had kind of a steady trudge through the midst, or through the swirl, and I also think of Piper sometimes as being in the middle of the swirl,” Schilling said.

“There’s something consistent about it. Even given that she’s getting crazier, there’s a consistency to her. And there’s a consistency also to Seinfeld, so that the others can be a little bit more explosive. I think that’s beautiful.

“I’m still very curious about this idea that as humans become more human, and get to know themselves more, the more idiosyncratic and wild they become. There actually aren’t any of us who are what anyone would imagine is normal.”

Nutty is the new normal? That’s an appropriate subtitle for Orange is the New Black.

As Season 4 begins, Piper is enjoying her newfound reputation as a bit of a bad-ass, although she probably is overstating her status.

Complicating things further is a massive influx of new inmates at Litchfield, which has become a “for-profit” facility. What if the newbies actually believe that Piper is “running the game,” so to speak?

That could cause more problems than it solves for Piper. But story-wise, it’s right in the wheelhouse of Orange is the New Black’s unique tone, careening from comic capers to super serious, even dangerous, situations.

“I don’t think it would be palatable unless it was so brilliantly designed by Jenji (Kohan, series creator),” Schilling said. “If it weren’t for her, this might have become too crystallized and heavy under its own weight, or it would be off in absurdity-land, which no longer would feel as if it had any relevance. And yet it’s still effervescent.”

As you’ll recall, Orange is the New Black began as a fish-out-of-water story, with Piper being sent to prison for smuggling drug money. The offence had occurred a decade earlier, and Piper subsequently had settled into a normal life.

But there’s that word again, “normal.”

“I think (Piper) needed this environment (prison) to bring this out of her,” Schilling said. “But I think it was all inside her, all along. I don’t think it’s something that necessarily was created in prison.

“There are parts of her that she wasn’t accessing in her previous life. Now she’s surprising herself and galvanizing herself in ways she didn’t even know were possible.”

With a stellar ensemble cast that includes the likes of Laura Prepon, Kate Mulgrew, Uzo Aduba, Taryn Manning and Nick Sandow, Orange is the New Black has been one of Netflix’s anchor shows for quite a while now.

But within the show itself, it’s Schilling’s Piper who is the anchor. She’s the Seinfeld.

Hey, wait a minute, in the very last scenes of Seinfeld, weren’t Jerry and the others in prison?

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