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Recap / Orange Is the New Black S01E01 "I Wasn't Ready"

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"I Wasn't Ready" is the series premiere of Orange Is the New Black.

The show opens with Piper Chapman, blonde, blue-eyed, 30-something yuppie, attempting to take her first shower in prison whilst wearing homemade flip-flops put together from sanitary napkins. The episode then lapses into a flashback to How We Got Here—not only Piper's first day at Litchfield Penitentiary, but nested flashbacks depicting a tempestuous college lesbian relationship with Alex Vause, a member of an international drug-smuggling ring; her relationship with her current fiancé, Larry Bloom; and their mutual shock and confusion when Alex, apprehended for her crimes, names Piper as an accessory. Once the narrative has gotten caught up to the present, Piper slowly makes both friends and enemies—most notably Red, the Russian woman who runs the kitchens, and whose cooking Piper unknowingly insults. Chapman realizes her mistake the next morning, when her "breakfast" consists of a sandwich containing a tampon—used. The circumstances get to her, and she runs outside for some air... only to run into another new arrival: Alex.

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The show also introduces its deuteragonist: Dayanara "Daya" Diaz, an inmate who arrives along with Chapman. The first thing that happens to her is that another Hispanic woman marches up to her and slaps her; Daya admits that this is her mother, Aleida.

Because it's based on Piper Kerman's memoir of her time in prison, the first episode opens with a voiceover in the First-Person Perspective, so far the only episode to do so.


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This episode provides examples of the following tropes:

  • But Not Too Bi: Piper's admission to her family of her past. They ask if she was a lesbian and she says she was but she's not a lesbian now.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Piper insults the food in front of Red (who runs the kitchen). As punishment, Red forbids the kitchen staff to serve her any food.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Discussed, in terms of the inmates' sentencing. Healy can't figure out why some sentences are harsher than others. Piper is serving a year (later explicitly stated to be fifteen months) for carrying a suitcase full of dirty money. Once.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: When she encounters Piper in the shower, Taystee makes comments about Piper's breasts that seem to indicate the writers imagined her as being gay or bi at this time. Future episodes establish her to be strictly heterosexual.
    Taystee: Damn, you got some nice titties. You got them TV titties. They stand up on they own, all perky and everything. You creative, I give you that, high-tits.
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  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Piper does, at any rate. Three scenes with two different partners in the first five minutes.
  • Experimented in College: Flashbacks show the relationship between Piper and Alex starts as this.
  • Fanservice: Laura Prepon and Taylor Schilling make out in the shower, in a flashback. This is quickly subverted when she's brought back to her present misery, in the prison shower with Taystee commenting.
  • MacGyvering: The women use maxi pads for everything, including cleaning rags. Piper makes a pair of shower flip-flops out of maxi pads, as well.
  • Naked First Impression: Piper most prominently, of course, but several other women are nude in the same shower room with her.
  • Shameful Strip: As part of the intake process, Piper must be thoroughly strip-searched. This is intercut with a flashback of a sexy striptease she performed for Alex.
  • Shower of Love: Piper shares one with her ex-girlfriend Alex in a flashback, and Nicky and Morello are seen having sex in the shower, much to Piper's shock.
  • Shower of Angst: Piper has one in her first stint in prison, during the How We Got Here introduction.
  • Strapped to a Bomb: Sister Ingalls was arrested for chaining herself to a nuclear test facility.
  • Title Drop: When the guards take Piper's ID picture, she says "I wasn't ready."
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Neither "Nora Jansen" in Piper Kerman's memoir, or Catherine Wolters in real life, were ever in the same actual prison as her, except the time the second season opener is based on.
  • Wham Line: Vause's only line in the episode.
    Alex: Maybe this is a bad time to say 'Hi,' huh?
  • You Are Number 6: The prisoners have numbers, but are known by their last names only.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: In the college flashback, Piper does a striptease for Alex before bed, set to Benny Latimore's "Let's Move and Groove Together".
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