The prison drama debuted on the streaming platform in July 2013 and quickly became a fan-favorite. Based on Piper Kerman’s 2010 memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, the series follows PR exec Piper Chapman (Schilling) as she adjusts to life in a minimum-security women’s prison in Connecticut. While doing time, Piper reconnects with her old flame Alex Vause (Prepon), whose drug trafficking past put Piper behind bars.
With seven seasons between 2013 and 2019, the Jenji Kohan-created show is one of Netflix’s longest-running original series to date. Over the years, Orange Is the New Black earned 21 Emmy nominations and four wins, including Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series. The ensemble — which includes Uzo Aduba, Laverne Cox and Natasha Lyonne — earned three SAG Awards as a group from 2015 to 2017.
Orange Is the New Black left behind a big legacy after portraying female characters with depth and giving room for LGBTQ romances to grow onscreen. Before season 7 aired in 2019, Schilling told Entertainment Weekly her biggest hope was that “people feel seen, and that there’s a reflection in the series of what has been happening to the cultural collective.”
Cox, for her part, was grateful for the authentic representation of life as a trans woman. Her character, Sophia Burset, ends the series by being released from prison and following her dreams of becoming a hairstylist.
“I thought, ‘What can it mean for audiences to see this and for a Black trans woman who’s formerly incarcerated to get out of prison and win?’ We need to see that,” Cox recalled in an August 2020 interview with TV Insider. “The trans people in real life need to see it. Non-trans people in real life need to see that. I always think about the first time we saw a Black president was on television, [in] 24 and probably other shows, before it happened in real life. I think sometimes, if we can see it on screen, then we can begin to imagine it. That’s what Sophia’s evolution and her ending on Orange Is the New Black means for me.”
Scroll down to find out what the stars of Orange Is the New Black are doing now!