- "Orange Is the New Black" season two releases Friday, June 6
- Show is about a well-off character who ends up in a women's prison
- A few details about the new season have slipped out
"Orange Is the New Black," and it's the new face of comedy, too.
Since its debut in July 2013, the original Netflix series has become the poster child for the way many of us now watch TV -- in large doses, on our own time, and often on something other than an actual television set.
But before "Orange Is the New Black" became the hottest topic for anyone with Internet access, it was a languishing concept from "Weeds" producer Jenji Kohan, who was struggling to find a home for the series based on a book by Piper Kerman.
As viewers learned in season one, "Orange Is the New Black" follows a well-bred New Yorker named Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), who gets sent to a Connecticut women's prison on an old drug charge that involved smuggling money for ex-girlfriend Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), who just happens to be serving time in the same facility. While there, Chapman gets indoctrinated into prison life with a series of scenes that have become infamous, like a bloody tampon given to her in a sandwich and a cellmate urinating on the floor.
Chapman, along with characters like Red (Kate Mulgrew), a grim Russian cook; Sophia (Laverne Cox), a transgender former firefighter; Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba), who's initially fixated on Chapman; and Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning), a disturbed drug addict, bring this dark comedy to life in a way that wouldn't have been out of place on pay-cable networks like HBO or Showtime.
Except neither network wanted it.
And then, in walked Netflix. With the company's image changing from being a source of mail-ordered movies to a streaming hub of entertainment, the service happily snapped up Kohan's dark comedy. As the writer/producer recalled to The New York Times, Netflix "pretty much bought it in the room."
The company's eagerness has paid off in full, as "Orange Is the New Black" has become the service's most-watched original series, according to an October letter to shareholders, and is already renewed for a third season.
But first, we have to prepare for season two's arrival on Friday. Though cast members and Kohan are tight-lipped about what's to come, here are a few tidbits on what to expect:
1. Nudity. "I love graphic sex, the more sex the better," Kohan said at an industry lunch in April. And the show has certainly put some of its performers on display right from showering get-go. This year may include male nudity, Kohan said, with a caveat: "I don't think it's going to be erect."
2. Triangle tension. You know that romantic triangle between prison guards Pornstache (Pablo Schreiber) and Bennett (Matt McGorry) and Daya (Dascha Polanco)? It's going to get messier. "There's kind of a tectonic shift happening between Pornstache, Bennett and Daya by the big point of the second season, and I think you might be surprised who you may be siding with in that triumvirate," Schreiber told EW.
3. A rising writer. Larry's had some success with his column about having a fiancée in prison, but his relationship with her is under strain. "If you're going to keep Larry involved, there needs to be some sort of change, and there are some in store," Jason Biggs, who plays Larry, told EW.
4. More romance and back story. Big Boo (Lea DeLaria) and Nicky (Natasha Lyonne) are going to have a "sex contest," reports TV Guide. We'll find out more about Red's (Kate Mulgrew) Russian gangster past. And watch out for a key insect.
5. A change of the guard? A number of "Orange" stars have commitments to other shows. Natasha Lyonne (Nicky) is doing an NBC show produced by Amy Poehler, and Schreiber is working on an HBO comedy. Laura Prepon (Alex) told the Daily Beast she will be in just four episodes in season two, though she's indicated she'd be willing to come back full-time for season three. Kohan is already thinking ahead. "If I could keep cycling people through and bringing in new people, the show could go on forever," she told EW.