Orange Is The New Black featured a lot of great characters, but over the years, the main one, Piper, just got so much worse.
Orange is the New Black is a wonderful exercise in character development. Some villainous characters are given depth and redeemed throughout the course of the series, and some heroic characters are given more villainous shades of gray. Protagonist Piper Chapman is certainly a part of the latter category.
Piper begins the series as an entitled and spoiled girl from New York who is given a crash course in prison politics throughout the first season. Suffice to say, she grows very comfortable in her new environment and becomes…something else. These are ten ways that Piper Chapman got worse and worse.
Cheating On Larry With Alex
This is a complicated situation. Piper was feeling lonely and…repressed in prison, and she didn’t have Larry. She also has a romantic past with Alex. And Alex was looking to put the past behind them and was acting friendly towards Piper. Finally, Larry openly lied to her and told her that Alex didn’t name her as an accessory.
Piper can’t exactly be blamed for embracing Alex, but surely she would be smarter than that. She knows deep down that Alex put her in prison, and she knows that her fraternization would only lead to trouble with Larry.
Beating Pennsatucky To A Pulp
This is another complicated situation, but it proves that Piper is embracing her darker side. At the end of season one, Pennsatucky literally tries to kill Piper for disrespecting her and running away from the baptism.
Meanwhile, Healy leaves her alone with Tucky to punish her for provocatively embracing Alex. Feeling alone and defensive, Piper rightfully disarms Tucky. But then she keeps punching and punching and punching, leaving Tucky a bloodied, battered, and toothless heap in the snow.
Lying Under Oath
Once again Piper’s relationship with Alex gets her into trouble when she lies under oath. The beginning of season two sees Piper testifying against Alex’s drug boss, Kubra. Alex tells her to lie about knowing Kubra because if she tells the truth, Kubra will exact revenge on her and Alex.
She goes ahead and lies for Alex, but Alex ends up caving under the pressure and telling the truth. Piper then faces perjury charges and extended prison time for intentionally lying under oath while Alex gets to walk free.
We get our first true glimpse of the heartless monster that is Piper Chapman when Soso arrives at the prison.
Much like Piper, Soso has difficulty adjusting to her new predicament, cries at night, and seeks comfort in other people. She makes the mistake of lying in Piper’s bed, resulting in Piper telling her that she is “a lone wolf who rips out the throat of sheep.” All the stresses of prison had clearly gone to Piper’s head, and she was now acting like the prison’s top dog. It would later get her into a lot of trouble…
Putting Alex Back In Prison
Once Kubra goes free, Alex begins suffering from extreme paranoia, as she fears that Kubra will exact his revenge. She shares this paranoia with Piper when she visits her in prison, along with her intention on skipping town.
Piper in turn has Polly report Alex for violating her parole, and Alex is sent back to prison. While Piper had good intentions in keeping Alex safe, there were probably better ways to solve the problem than breaking Alex’s parole and having her thrown back in prison…
The Panty Business
Things get even worse for Piper in season three when she begins her panty business. A corporation has the prisoners manufacture their panties as a form of cheap labor, but Piper has other ideas.
She has prisoners wear the panties, sneaks the used panties to a guard who in turn gives them to Cal (Piper’s brother) who in turns gives the money to Piper. It is highly illegal, and highly dangerous. Especially when…
She Keeps The Money For Herself
Despite the panty business being a group effort, Piper decides to keep all the money for herself.
This rightfully causes some dissension within the “company,” and some “employees” begin an uprising over their lack of pay. This causes a lot of problems with Flaca, and Piper decides to fire Flaca from the operation to send a message and set an example. And when Piper has a change of heart, she decides to re-hire Flaca on a cheaper rate.
The panty business comes to a problematic head when Stella steals all of Piper’s money after learning that she will be released.
To exact her revenge, Piper steals the prison’s contraband (which includes the likes of marijuana, a shiv, cigarettes, and a screwdriver) and stashes them in Stella’s bunk before ratting her out to the C.Os. Stella is sent to maximum security, and Boo calls her “stone cold.” She’s certainly not wrong.
(Accidentally) Starting A White Power Group
It doesn’t get much worse than starting a White Power group. When Maria infringes on Piper’s panty business with her own, she decides to set up a “task force” to deal with gang activity.
However, this meeting quickly spirals out of control and a White Power group is formed to target the Dominicans. Piper begrudgingly goes along with it, effectively turning her into the leader of a white nationalist group.
This would turn out to be Piper’s downfall. High on her own ego and fearing the power of her white nationalist group, Piper decides to plant panties in Ruiz’s bunk – an act that adds another 3-5 years on Ruiz’s sentence.
A vengeful Ruiz then branded Piper with a swastika, an act that deflated Piper’s ego and resorted her to the scared and dismissive prisoner she was at the beginning of season one.