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Headscratchers: Orange Is The New Black
  • Weird question but why are the prisoners not allowed to wear makeup exactly?
    • Because it is absolutely a frivolous luxury.
    • Also, because it's part of their dress code and it keeps the inmates disciplined.
  • Why is Morello in the white contingent with her Hispanic name?
    • Because she clearly passes and identifies as white and is a thoughtless racist towards Hispanics, meaning any potentially existing Hispanic heritage is probably minimal and ignored on her part?
    • Because not all people of Spanish descent are of mixed race and Morello is an Italian name.
    • Did you not hear her Italian-American accent which was thicker than a block of ice?
    • If her looks, name and accent weren't already a tip-off, her family in the flashbacks made it very clear that she's an Italian-American.
  • On a similar note, why doesn't Rosa associate with the other hispanics?
    • Rosa is sick and anti-social. She doesn't associate with anyone much. Plus, she's considerably older than most of the others and probably doesn't feel like she fits in with them.
      • That makes sense, but in her flashback she seemed quite temperamental and otherwise quite outgoing when she arrived in prison. We don't know how long she had cancer (IIRC)and stopped caring, but one would think she still would have been part of a group from her younger days like Red or presumably Chang. It's understandable that she doesn't want to be part of the Golden Girls and it's not impossible that her attitude changed drastically once she got sick, but still she doesn't even seem to speak Spanish anymore for some reason.

  • Are people like Morello, Nicky, and Tricia lesbians or bi like Boo and Alex or are they just in homosexual relationships because it's prison and they're not fully heterosexual on the Kinsey scale?
    • Tricia, Nicky, Alex and Boo at no point in the series give any indication that they're bisexual, both before and after prison they're only seen with women. Morello seems to be the closest to heterosexual.
    • We see the pre-prison lives of the women who have flashbacks, so we can label them for sure: Red, Miss Claudette, Daya, Aleida, Janae, Pennsatucky, Gloria, Black Cindy, Rosa, Sister Ingalls and Vee are all shown to be either heterosexual or celibate, both outside the prison and inside. Lorna is prison gay, but otherwise heterosexual. Sophia was bisexual, even before her transition. Nicky was almost certainly a lesbian before coming to prison, although we never see her with a woman. Alex, Tricia and Poussey have only ever been shown with women. Piper is bisexual.

  • Why didn't Red try to say that the pills came from Mendez after he was fired? He couldn't rat her out anymore cause he was gone.
    • Because the word of an inmate with Russian mafia connections is nothing compared to the word of a previously clean guard (even a presently disgraced one) and trying to blame a guard already in trouble would be about as obvious and successful an excuse as 'I'm holding it for a friend'.
      • In that window between when he was caught and before she got caught for pills, she could have stepped in and said "He did this." Knowing that pills are gonna come in before being caught with them, gives you an advantage.
      • And they would have believed her, of course. The fact is, they were inclined to believe she was the one who brought the pills in, and she couldn't prove otherwise. It couldn't be proven in court that she was guilty, but they don't need that to take away privileges. Red was a trusty (not trustee, which is something else), an inmate who is given certain benefits and powers over other inmates as a way of delegating responsibilities that would otherwise need to be taken care of by an already undermanned staff, and also as a carrot to get inmates to behave.

  • Why are Aleida and Daya in jail when Cesar isn't?
    • Because they got caught and he didn't. A situation exacerbated by their both being in a relationship with him for their own reasons, Aleida presumably out of some legitimate desire for him and Daya quite possibly because she was using him to protect and support her siblings (which he wouldn't be able to do in prison). From the drugs side of things, they were expendable, so nobody stepped in in the ways they might have if Cesar had been caught.

  • What kind of idiot thinks that an article about ejaculation would fly in the New York Times? Did he confuse it with Penthouse? Also, what kind of idiotic freelance reporter only has one article idea when he meets with an editor?
    • A failing one. Hence why he was struggling and out of work, and had to take the quick and easy route of writing about Piper even though she said she didn't like the idea.

  • It doesn't seem unrealistic that Taystee would go back to prison, but her parole officer should have ensured that she had a new place to go if her stated new place of residence was no longer viable because her cousin got evicted
    • I'm given to understood that parole officers are not obligated to do anything for the ex-convict they're supervising and can and will blame everything not up to standards in their charge's life on their charge, regardless of whether it was within their control.
    • This troper lives in a town with a medium security women's prison of the sort depicted in the show. One of the biggest concerns is that when the women are released, they have nowhere to go, not even a halfway house. With no jobs, no money, family often far away, and landlords who require references and a credit check, where are they supposed to go?
    • Setting aside what is supposed to happen in reality, take a long look at the authority figures on this series and tell me where on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism we are supposed to be.

  • Where the hell did Boo get a dog? She has a vest like a guide dog or a dog being trained for that, but still?
    • This is a common program in prisons, actually. They get prisoners jobs training dogs as service animals or just as pets. The idea is that it's teaching a valuable skill and improving morale at the same time, because puppies are cute.
    • Kudos to answering your own question as you were asking it by the way.
    • And why the hell are people allowed to cuddle the dog and all when she brings it in? Not touching service dogs on duty is like the First Rule of Fight Club.
      • That only applies to service dogs on duty. It's perfectly okay to socialize with them when they aren't in business mode. Besides, many service dog programs get volunteers to socialize the dog and do basic training, before the real work begins. (though with how old Lil' Boo seems to be, that probably isn't the case here)
      • What the troper above said. Working dogs needs to be socialised, so they can learn the right and wrong ways to interact with people and other dogs while working. Such as not barking at strangers, only when the phone goes, etc.
    • No one said she was good at the training. And honestly, over 80% of dogs trained up to be service dogs don't make it, for one reason or another. What are your bets on Little Boo?
    • It could also be that the dog is being trained as a therapy dog, so touching is okay.
    • Agreeing with the above. This troper automatically assumed that Little Boo was a therapy dog, although assuming that Boo had the dog as part of her therapy. It's probably more plausible that she's keeping the dog to train it as a therapy dog than that though...

  • How could they trust Morello with keys to a car? She must be a really good inmate
    • She's a trustee in a minimum security prison. In other words, yes, she is a really good inmate.
    • Plus, y'know, she explains that herself when Piper asks her the exact same question?
    • It's trusty. I know, the word we're familiar with in a legal context is trustee, but this is the word specifically for an inmate that they're trusting in whatever capacity. It's a little strange, though, because it doesn't seem like Morello's been there that long. Although, they do have a guard go along in the van with her, notwithstanding when the one guard left her alone long enough for her to go stalk Christopher.

  • Wouldn't someone notice the gas Morello used for her "detour"?
    • General incompetence, Litchfield's guards are pretty notoriously incompetent, considering they allowed Morello the chance to ditch in the first place. It's not surprising that they wouldn't think to check the gas and do the math.

  • Why would Alex get a reduced sentence for naming someone lower in the distribution chain?
    • It's implied that Piper's name is just one of a long list. While I haven't read the book, in this article, Piper Kerman describes her former lover as "pointing fingers and naming names," so this probably happened all up and down the distribution chain.
    • Because a district attorney sometimes doesn't care about the importance of the person they're convicting as much as the number of convictions... and this was a case where they could get both. Offer Alex a few years off a long sentence, and snag another conviction by prosecuting Piper... who cares if it's just some woman who did one money run ten years ago? Looks good getting another conviction connected to the case.

  • How was Flores charging the cell phone?
    • Possibly sneaking it out every so often and plugging it in somewhere remote. Keeping it in the stall 99% of the time would have drastically reduced her chances of getting caught with it.
  • On that note, who was paying for the cell phone service?
    • Her boyfriend, most likely
  • And are we supposed to believe that this woman held long conversations in that bathroom stall, every single day for who knows how long, and NOBODY standing around understood what was going on? Her voice is conversational with many pauses. Sure she is speaking Spanish, and she is supposed to be a nut who talks to herself, but these women are prison savvy and it's hard to believe no one peeked at her just once to confirm what they should have known by the tone of her voice.

  • How did Watson end up in federal minimum security for what looked like an armed robbery?
    • She's young, it was a first crime, the likelihood of her repeating it again is low, plus she might have gotten a better deal if she convinced the judge she was the bagholder and not the one with the gun.
      • The issue is that she committed a state crime, not a federal crime. Everyone else whose crime has been revealed so far was involved with either drugs or interstate crimes. Watson knocked over a store.
      • Is it ever stated where she committed that crime? If she was in Washington, D.C., then that could explain things. IIRC, felonies there go into the federal system.
      • It was in NYC, as the cop's uniforms states.

  • Piper carried a suitcase full of money - once - from one European country to another. I haven't watched the whole series yet bu apparently the only evidence is the testimony of a disgruntled former lover who was most likely indicted on major drug offenses. I know the first episode explains that Piper took a deal to plead guilty and I am not a lawyer, or an American, but on what basis could an American prosecutor even charge her? I have to think that a criminal case needs to be based on more than one spurned-ex-lover witness - who is making a deal for a reduced sentence - saying "She like, totally did it, for real man!" Even if there was corroborating evidence, how would an American prosecutor charge Piper for carrying money around Europe? Is there a real legal basis for that? Could Piper really have such a bad attorney?
    • Piper never read the indictment, so we don't know that Alex's word was the "only" evidence they had. Indeed, once they have the Alex's testimony, they can surely find a lot of corroboration: airline tickets, visa stamps, hotel bills, etc showing that Piper was following Alex around the world. Once you are established as part of a criminal conspiracy under federal law, the charges can rack up QUICK so confessing to a simple charge can look like a fantastic deal to even a good lawyer. Moreover, the fact that her conduct occurred in foreign countries doesn't prevent her from being charged in the US, considering they were done in furtherance of a conspiracy to import drugs to the US.
    • Speaking as just a Criminal Justice major, not a fully trained lawyer or anything, yes, Alex's testimony (especially if she'd been giving up more important people in the chain) combined with the information mentioned above would be more than enough for a prosecutor to file a charging document. Given her situation, especially with a lawyer who didn't hate her, it's entirely possible Piper could have won at trial. This is one of the two major reasons prosecutors offer plea deals, the other being if it's an ironclad case with lots of evidence and they don't want to waste the time and money on a trial. Piper probably should have taken her chances with the jury, but given the situation, nobody probably told her that.
    • It's a tricky thing. The whole point of a plea deal is that the prosecution isn't sure they can get a conviction, and the defense isn't sure they can beat all the charges. Piper was potentially looking at a lot more time if she tried fighting it and was found guilty. This was covered in the pilot, I think, and Piper Kerman, the real life Piper, talked about her decision not to roll the dice and chance getting twenty years or something when she could be guaranteed of walking in fifteen months.

  • Why are convicted murderers like Pennsatucky and Miss Claudette being held in the same prison as non-violent criminals like Piper, Janae, Sophia, and Sister Ingalls? Wouldn't violent offenders be placed in a prison with tighter security?
    • Pennsatucky and Claudette both were arrested for killing one specific person for one specific reason. They're likely considered to not be much of a real threat, and unlikely to repeat the crime again.
      • Does that really hold for Pennsatucky? If the court bought her "protecting the unborn" plea, she'd still be a threat to any OTHER abortion clinic employee out there.
    • Was it ever confirmed that Claudette was actually charged with the murder that we see her commit? As I recall, there were rumors that she'd killed someone, and another inmate denies that, saying that she was convicted of slavery, referring to the whole human trafficking maid service thing. I don't recall them discussing her actual charges when her case gets re-opened. Also, it doesn't seem like there would be much to re-examine in such a simple premeditated murder charge, but the human trafficking thing would be a lot more complicated.
      • They also gossip that the nun was a murderer and Claudette is a mystical voodoo priestess. Rumors and tall tales among inmates are not the same as fact.
      • Healy refers to Claudette's conviction as an immigration matter, so she wasn't convicted of murder.
      • Wrong for Claudette ; she was indeed convicted because she killed a man who was abusing one of the girls from her illegal cleaning service.
      • Episode, please? They show her cleaning up after killing the guy, true, but why would Healy say her case is back on the table with changes to immigration laws? She's given the impression that she feels she deserves a long sentence for killing the guy, but there's no indication she was ever caught/convicted for that crime, only for the immigration stuff.
    • Pennsatuckey took the gun in and fired a shot. It's not even established that the shot hit the nurse, let alone killed her. You can survive getting shot, you know. There were even doctors right there. If the nurse didn't die, it would be assault with a deadly weapon, maybe attempted murder.
      • It's also doubtful that she would get so much support from the Christians if she actually murdered the nurse, no matter how strong they feel about abortion. They also mention that she "only" stood up to the injustice.
      • If the nurse didn't die, she could testify that Pennabama was getting an abortion before shooting her, which would nullify her Christian defense.
      • Didn't they knew that she was getting the abortion anyway but were under the impression she was forced to do it?

  • Why would an anti-abortion religious group choose to champion Pennsatucky when she committed her crime immediately after receiving her fifth abortion? I don't see how they could paint her as an anti-abortion crusader with that fact coming out in court. You'd think it would be much more effective to go the opposite direction and use her to argue that people who get abortions are evil.
    • Because the group protesting outside saw her storm out of the clinic and immediately go back in and fire up the joint. THEN they hired the best lawyer in the country to give her a shimmering public image. Her shtick was that she found Jesus, and all was forgiven. Which is kind of the appeal to Christianity.
      • Even Christians know what bad publicity is and would never choose a convicted murderer as some sort of redemption poster child. Hell, Christians distance themselves from the Westboro Baptist Church immediately after something controversial happens and they don't even kill. I agree with OP; as a Christian and a pro-lifer it would honestly make more sense to paint people who get abortions as unstable (horrible as it sounds).
    • Her supporters, assuming they knew about the abortions, (which probably came up in court) could've been led to believe that she regretted her abortions and found Jesus, and then shot the woman.
    • Not only was it a Women's Health Clinic and not specifically an abortion clinic (so the protesters may not have been able to identify her as an abortion patient), the lawyers may have had her reason for being there the first five times struck from the record, since they were "irrelevant" to her sixth visit (seconds after the fifth visit ended), so they could have an easy-to-control case and win over some public opinion and politicians. That "struck from the record" thing sounds ridiculous, but it happens.
    • Better question, what kind of terrible nurse, who WORKS at a clinic offering abortions, makes a scathing remark to a patient about how many abortions they had?! Surely any nurse working anywhere would know better to make any kind of judgemental comments to/about their patients in their hearing, and are familiar with th basic concept of "bedside manner". And if this nurse had issues with people getting abortions (given her remark was about someone having multiple abortions), why the heck was she working, not only in a clinic that provides abortions but being involved with those cases personally? Why not get a job in a completely unrelated field??
      • Rude and mean people exist. Besides, the nurse might not have had an issue with abortion in general, just thought Pennsatucky was irresponsible for having to go in so many times.
      • While it doesn't excuse anyone's behaviour, when it comes to Pennsatuckey (Why is she called that?) and being rude, it's quite possible the nurse didn't throw the first punch.
      • Even so, as a nurse, thinking it is one thing, but she shouldn't be saying anything of the kind to the patient's face! An attitude like that could get her fired or even struck off the nursing register, surely?? Nurses are there to look after patients, no matter the reason why they're there.
      • You can be pro-choice and still think that after your first accidental pregnancy, your second, even your third, you'd take more precautions and not be as irresponsible.
      • And prison guards shouldn't molest inmates or bring drugs into the prison, but that's the kind of world the show takes place in. The clinic was likely a small-town affair with low standards.
      • There's a difference between a crooked guard, and a rude judgmental nurse!
      • Not really, no.
      • Classism and judgement for her drug use could come into play. There are people, who while socially liberal and pro-choice, will still look down on poor drug-users and what they see as "white trash". The nurse might have seen her as low-class and deserving of scorn and ridicule. Even in prison the "meth-heads" seem to get a special level of ridicule and derision. There have been cases of minorities and poor people speaking out about how their status often results in rude and condescending treatment from medical staff.
  • Just a little question: what was it that Norma and Gloria were cooking up and then scattered on Vee? I figured it was some sort of homemade itching powder but its results didn't really show.
    • It was a homemade bruja curse.
  • Why does the prison go on lockdown when a screwdriver goes missing, but Sophia seems to have unsupervised access to hair cutting tools?
    • Sophia has absolutely supervised access to hair cutting tools, the exact same way the cooking staff had access to food cutting tools, and the maintenance had access to more screw drivers. Security guards are constantly watching them, and they have strict check in/check out sheets keeping track of where and when everything is.
  • Why does Morello's sister tell her (over the phone) that Christopher is getting married? Was her sister not at the trial? If you learned your sister was stalking and tried to kill some guy and his fiancee, why bring that up?
    • Maybe she thought it'd help her out of the delusion or Morello had got better by now?
  • As heartwarming as Norma's song in the Christmas pageant may have been...if everyone at Litchfield thought she was mute, why did they put her in the choir in the first place?
    • Because she wanted to participate as a lamb.
  • Why are people like Morello or Warren, who are clearly mentally ill (yet relatively harmless), locked up in prison and not in some kind of mental institution?
    • That, unfortunately, is Truth in Television. Sometimes, people who are mentally ill behave in a way that is "criminal," (such as Morello planting a bomb in Christopher's car) get locked up in prison (where they don't belong), then continue to act out against the prison rules, which adds more time to their sentences. The guards are not trained to deal with it and the mentally ill inmates don't get the psychiatric help they need.
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