Earlier this month, June 7th to be exact, Sir Christopher
Sure, you may have binge watched all of “Orange Is the New Black” in one Netflix-filled weekend (who didn’t?). But how much do you know about the real life story behind the show? Using Piper Kerman’s memoir, the show stayed true to the spirit of the actual events, but definitely spiced a few things up for television (er…internet).
1. The real life Piper and Larry didn’t have much drama. You know, other than her being in prison. But Larry made weekly visits, even setting up carpools with other husbands.
2. Larry did write about Piper’s experience, but she didn’t mind. On the show, Larry exploit’s his fiancé’s situation to do a This American Life-type radio show, and it causes a lot of problems for Piper in prison. In reality, Larry wrote an essay titled “Modern Love,” which Piper found sweet.
3. The guards were even more horrible than their TV counterparts. You thought Pornstache was evil? The real Piper says the show made the guards look way too friendly.
4. There was a Pornstache, though. But his actual nickname with the inmates was “Gay Porn Star.”
5. Prison wasn’t nearly that sexy. The inspiration for Alex Vause (a woman named Catherine Cleary Wolters) says she and Piper never did the deed in prison. In fact, they weren’t even serving time in the same prison, save for a five-week-long temporary transfer.
6. In fact, Piper wasn’t with anyone else in prison. She didn’t even tell anyone she was bisexual, to avoid unwanted attention.
7. Piper and Alex’s pre-prison relationship was sexed-up for TV too. Catherine Wolters says the two worked together, and were friends (with benefits), but she swears “I was not Piper’s first, and I certainly did not seduce her.”
8. The prison welcome wagon is much more welcoming. Piper has talked about a “tribal ritual” that involves making new inmates feel comfortable and safe. New arrivals found open arms bearing important gifts like toothpaste and shower shoes. (If the season two sewage problems were based on real events, those shoes were the best gift imaginable.)
9. Even Red wasn’t that mean. TV Piper made an immediate enemy in kitchen head Red. But “Pop” (Red’s name in the book) was more a mentor than a menace. Piper’s book is even dedicated to Pop (along with her fiancé and parents).
10. The whole experience was much less violent. Save for one incident involving taking all the spinach from the salad bar, the real Piper didn’t encounter much conflict in prison. Definitely nothing involving a missing screwdriver.
11. Piper never made any fancy soaps. TV Piper was constantly defending her two-woman business endeavor by declaring “We got into Barney’s.” But in reality, all she got into was creative directing with “big shadowy” corporations. Hey, it paid her legal bills, so who’s complaining?