JoJo Whilden / Netflix
JoJo Whilden / Netflix

19 Binge-Worthy Facts About Orange Is the New Black

JoJo Whilden / Netflix
JoJo Whilden / Netflix

Orange is the New Black's fourth season is here! Before you sit down to binge-watch, get to know Piper, Alex, and Crazy Eyes even better with these facts about what goes on behind the scenes of Litchfield Penitentiary.

1. COMPETITION FOR THE RIGHTS TO PIPER KERMAN'S MEMOIR WAS STIFF.

Jenji Kohan, who was already well-known for creating Weeds, read Piper Kerman's memoir and thought it would be perfect for a TV show adaptation. According to Kohan:

"I'm always looking for those places where you can slam really disparate people up against one another, and they have to deal with each other. There are very few crossroads anymore. We talk about this country as this big melting pot, but it's a mosaic. There's all these pieces, they're next to each other, they're not necessarily mixing. And I'm looking for those spaces where people actually do mix—and prison just happens to be a terrific one."

Kohan wasn’t the only one who wanted to adapt it. She had to call Kerman and “beg” her for the rights. Kerman was particularly impressed with Kohan’s devotion to telling the story properly as “she asked [her] question after question after question.”

2. KOHAN ALWAYS HAD BIG PLANS FOR THE SHOW'S OTHER CHARACTERS.

Kohan knew that Piper (played by Taylor Schilling) would appeal to network execs, but she wanted to go much deeper than that story. "In a lot of ways Piper was my Trojan Horse,” said Kohan. “You're not going to go into a network and sell a show on really fascinating tales of black women, and Latina women, and old women and criminals. But if you take this white girl, this sort of fish out of water, and you follow her in, you can then expand your world and tell all of those other stories. But it's a hard sell to just go in and try to sell those stories initially.”

3. THE REAL-LIFE ALEX VAUSE HAS SPOKEN OUT ABOUT WHAT REALLY WENT DOWN.

Catherine Wolters, the inspiration for Alex, has claimed that the show gets a lot wrong when it comes to Alex and Piper's relationship. The two had already been involved in the trafficking business long before they met each other, according to Wolters. She also said that their relationship definitely didn’t carry over to prison, where they only spent around five weeks in the same facility. But, Wolters admitted that making the show about their real relationship would be “so wretched and stinky, it would quite possibly result in a collapsed universe. So I guess it’s a good thing Piper and Jenji stick with the fun little tidbits.”

4. LAURA PREPON ORIGINALLY AUDITIONED FOR PIPER.

Jennifer Euston, the show’s casting director, and Kohan agreed that Prepon was too composed and confident to play neurotic Piper. They didn’t believe that the audience would worry for her in the role. From then on, the two designed Alex around Prepon—including the character’s glasses and black hair.

5. UZO ADUBA WAS OFFERED THE ROLE OF "CRAZY EYES" ON THE SAME DAY SHE DECIDED TO QUIT ACTING.

Uzo Aduba also auditioned for a different role before she was offered the part of Crazy Eyes. The former Boston University sprinter (and marathonercame in and read for Janae Watson, the track star. Frustrated that she hadn't heard back, she decided to quit acting and go to law school instead. Little did she know that Kohan thought she’d be perfect for a different part: the very same day she "quit" acting, Aduba was offered the part of Crazy Eyes.

6. ADUBA TAPS INTO HER INNER CHILD TO PLAY CRAZY EYES.

In the first script, Aduba claimed that Crazy Eyes was described as “innocent like a child, except children aren’t scary.” She used that description to develop her character’s distinctive persona and mannerisms. As Aduba put it, “That felt like the key to the door that might open this character because someone who is innocent like a child, to me, meant somebody who operates out of impulse … who acts and then thinks. Children don’t have agendas. They’re not calculating.”

7. TARYN MANNING RESEARCHED DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS GROUPS TO PLAY PENNSATUCKY.

Taryn Manning watched a number of documentaries about religious groups, including Jesus Camp and The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. She also spent time studying YouTube videos of faith healing and other evangelist rituals.

8. KERMAN CONTINUES TO GIVE NOTES FOR THE SHOW.

Though they've deviated from the stories Kerman recounts in her memoir, Kohan still looks to her for advice. According to the showrunner, “She gives notes, mostly about accuracy. You know, ‘I don’t think that would happen.’ And she comes to set for visits, which must be strange for her. But she’s really kind of trusted us with her baby and we really, completely took off from where she started.”

9. THE WRITERS VISITED A REAL WOMEN'S PRISON.

Kohan and her writing staff paid a visit to California's Chino Prison. Kohan also spoke with the prison’s warden, who explained how social groups tend to form in both men's and women’s prisons. He told her that, generally speaking, women are more communal and seek out groups, rather than spend time alone.

10. REGINA SPEKTOR WROTE THE THEME SONG SPECIFICALLY FOR THE SHOW.

Regina Spektor and Kohan had already collaborated a couple of times. (Spektor did a cover of “Little Boxes” for the opening of an episode of Weeds.) Because of their solid working relationship, Kohan reached out to her and asked if she’d write the theme song for Orange Is the New Black. In order to write it, Spektor was sent a few unfinished episodes in the middle of filming season one. She has said that seeing the characters come to life helped her put together a finished version of the song.

11. THOSE ARE REAL FORMER PRISONERS IN THE OPENING CREDITS.

Kohan hired non-actresses to pose for the opening credit sequence—all of them formerly incarcerated women. In order to get the right facial expressions, the women were asked to visualize three things: “a peaceful place,” “a person who makes you laugh,” and finally, “something that you want to forget.”

12. THE COSTUME DESIGNER HAS TO GET CREATIVE.

Costume designer Jennifer Rogien has described the job of dressing the inmates as “a creative challenge.” She must use real prison uniforms—either orange or beige—without altering anything too dramatically, unless the alterations are things a prisoner could have done herself. Rogien has to rely on subtle touches that serve to set the characters apart, such as rolled sleeves or hems. Her time to really shine comes during the flashback scenes, set in various decades and places. Rogien sees those as an opportunity to not only define the characters, but to “highlight the contrast between the world inside and the world outside.”

13. THERE'S AN AMERICAN PIE REFERENCE IN THE PILOT.

Given that both Jason Biggs and Natasha Lyonne were in American Pie, the writers couldn’t resist sneaking in a reference or two. In the pilot, Biggs's Larry complains to Piper that he tells her everything: "The webcam horror, the penis shaving incident ...," which are both things that happened to his character, Jim, in the 1999 comedy. In a later episode, Lyonne’s Nicky tells Red, “I thought I was, like, your Spock.” This is a nod to Kate Mulgrew's stint playing Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager.

14. LAVERNE COX'S BROTHER PLAYS SOPHIA PRE-TRANSITION.

Cox's twin brother, musician M. Lamar, stepped in to play a pre-transition Sophia in one episode. The casting director auditioned a ton of actors before she discovered that Cox even had a twin. "She insisted that he should audition for the role," Cox said. "He auditioned, and he got the part."

15. JODIE FOSTER HAS DIRECTED TWO EPISODES.

It was Jodie Foster who pursued the gig. After reading the book, she asked her agent if she could somehow get involved. The Oscar winner ended up directing the third episode in season one and the season two pilot.

16. THE CAST AND CREW LIKE WORKING ON A SHOW THEY KNOW PEOPLE WILL EVENTUALLY BINGE-WATCH.

The people behind Orange Is the New Black are well aware that you’re going to binge-watch their show, and they've even adapted their production process accordingly. For instance, Kohan doesn't worry as much about writing each character into every single episode because she knows that the audience doesn’t have to wait a full week for the next installment featuring their favorites.

From a professional standpoint, Schilling enjoys knowing that the audience is binge-watching her. "As an actor doing regular TV, if there's a really special scene you did, in like episode five or eight, this way the people are more likely to see it, rather than drop out after a month and miss it," she said. "It's more like theater in terms of immediacy and rapid response, and gratification for the actors."

17. LITCHFIELD IS A REAL PLACE—BUT ITS WOMEN'S PRISON IS NOT.

The show is set in Litchfield Penitentiary in upstate New York—however, there's no women's prison in the real Litchfield. (In real life, Kerman served her time at FCI Danbury in Danbury, Connecticut.)

18. LORRAINE TOUSSAINT HAD NO IDEA VEE WAS GOING TO BE SO EVIL.

Lorraine Toussaint didn’t meet Kohan until her very first day on set, when she decided to pick the showrunner's brain about Vee, inmate she was about to play. “I had some basic questions I needed answered so I could at least finish out that first day,” Toussaint later recalled. “Somewhere in the conversation was an ‘Oh, by the way, she’s a sociopath.’ I said, ‘Huh? Really? Um …’ and she said, ‘Oh, yes, a bona-fide, complete and absolute sociopath.’ I thought, Oh! I wish I had known that! I might have thought twice about this.”

19. FILMING VEE'S ATTACK ON RED WAS CHALLENGING.

The actresses in that scene have cited it as one of the most difficult to film. In order for the scene to work, Kate Mulgrew had to be harnessed to a heavy camera so that Toussaint could also be in the shot and get very close to her face. As Mulgrew explained, “You can easily be hurt if you don’t know what you’re doing, and this was perilously close.”

All images courtesy of Netflix.

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Shout! Factory
10 Surprising Facts About Mr. Mom
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

John Hughes penned the script for 1983's Mr. Mom, a comedy about a family man named Jack Butler (Micheal Keaton) who loses his job. To ensure their three kids are taken care of, his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), goes back to work—leaving Jack to fight off a vacuum cleaner and learn why it's never a good idea to feed chili to a baby.

In 1982, Keaton turned in a star-making role in Ron Howard’s Night Shift, but Mr. Mom marked the first time he headlined a movie, and it launched his career. Hughes had written National Lampoon's Vacation, which—oddly enough—was released in theaters the weekend after Mr. Mom. But Hughes himself was still a relative unknown, as it would be another year before he entered the teen flick phase of his career, which would make him iconic.

In the meantime, Mr. Mom hit home for a lot of viewers, as the economy was on the downturn and more and more women were entering (or reentering) the workforce. But some people think that the movie's ending—which sees the couple revert to traditional gender roles—sidelined the movie's message. Still, on the 35th anniversary of its release, Mr. Mom remains an ahead-of-its-time comedy classic.

1. IT'S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

Mr. Mom producer Lauren Shuler Donner came across a funny article John Hughes had written for National Lampoon. Based on that, she contacted him and the two became friends. “One day, he was telling me that his wife had gone down to Arizona and he was in charge of the two boys and he didn’t know what he was doing,” Donner told IGN. “It was hilarious! I was on the floor laughing. He said, ‘Do you think this would make a good movie?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, this is really funny.’ So he said, ‘Well, I have about 80 pages in a drawer. Would you look at it?’ So I looked at it and I said, ‘This is great! Let’s do it!’ We kind of developed it ourselves.” In the book Movie Moguls Speak, Donner mentioned how Hughes “had never been to a grocery store, he had never operated a vacuum cleaner. John was so ignorant, that in his ignorance, he was hilarious.”

The players involved with the movie told Donner and Hughes they thought it should be a TV movie. Hughes had a TV deal with Aaron Spelling, who came aboard to executive produce. “Then the players involved were upset because John was writing out of Chicago instead of L.A.,” Donner said in Movie Moguls Speak. “They fired John and brought in a group of TV writers. In the end, John and I were muscled out. It was a good movie, but if you ever read John’s original script for Mr. Mom, it’s far better.”

2. JOHN HUGHES REJECTED THE IDEA OF DIRECTING MR. MOM.

Stan Dragoti ended up directing the film, but only after Hughes turned it down, because he preferred to make his movies in Chicago, not Hollywood. “I don’t like being around the people in the movie business,” Hughes told Roger Ebert. “In Hollywood, you spend all of your time having lunch and making deals. Everybody is trying to shoot you down. I like to get my actors out here where we can make our movies in privacy.” Hughes remained in Chicago and filmed his directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, there.

3. MICHAEL KEATON GOT THE ROLE BECAUSE OF NIGHT SHIFT.

In 1982’s Night Shift, Keaton’s character works at a morgue and starts a prostitution ring with co-worker Henry Winkler. Donner had an agent friend, Laurie Perlman, who represented the not-yet-famous actor. She contacted Donner and pitched Keaton to her. “’Look, I represent this guy who is really funny. Would you meet with him?’" Donner recalled of the conversation. "So I met with him. Usually I don’t like to do this unless we’re casting, but I met with him because she was my friend. And then she said, ‘You have to see this movie Night Shift that he’s in.’ So I went to see Night Shift, and midway through I couldn’t wait to get out of that theater to give Mr. Mom to Michael Keaton. Fortunately, he liked it."

Keaton told Grantland that he turned down one of the main roles in Splash to play Jack Butler. “I just remember at the time thinking I wanted to get away from what I’d just done on Night Shift,” he said. “I thought if I do it again, I might get myself stuck. So then Mr. Mom came along. So I said no [to Splash] so I could set up this framework right away where I could do different things.”

4. THE FILM BROKE NEW GROUND.

Teri Garr, Michael Keaton, Taliesin Jaffe, Frederick Koehler, and Martin Mull in Mr. Mom (1983)
Shout! Factory

In 1983, more women stayed at home than worked, so it was a novelty for a man to be a stay-at-home dad. Today, an estimated 1.4 million men are stay-at-home dads, and 7 million men are their children's primary caregiver. “Mr. Mom became part of the vernacular,” Donner told Newsweek. “Mr. Mom represented a segment of men who were at home dealing with the kids who, up until then, really hadn’t been heard from. That’s what really told me about the power of film, because it spoke for a lot of men. It also helped women, because I think that women sometimes, if you’re a housewife, you’re not really appreciated for what you do. This sort of made women feel better about what they did because they knew that men were understanding it.”

5. TODAY, “MR. MOM” IS CONSIDERED A PEJORATIVE TERM.

More than 30 years after the film’s release, stay-at-home dads feel the term “Mr. Mom” should die. The National At-Home Dad Network launched a campaign to terminate the phrase and instead have people refer to men as “Dad.” In 2014 Lake Superior State University voted to banish “Mr. Mom” from the lexicon.

“At least, the pop-culture image of the inept dad who wouldn’t know a diaper genie from a garbage disposal has begun to fade,” wrote The Wall Street Journal, after declaring “Mr. Mom is dead.”

6. TERI GARR DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS A MESSAGE MOVIE.

The movie redefined gender roles, but when the producers pitched the premise to Garr, they hid the plot reversal. “They just told me it was about a guy who does the work that a woman does, because it’s so easy,” she told The A.V. Club. “And I went, ‘Oh, yeah. Ha ha.’ It’s so easy. All the women I know who stay home and take care of their kids, they go, ‘Oh yeah, this is easy.’ Hmm.”

7. MARTIN MULL IMPROVISED THE “220, 221” LINE.

The quote everyone remembers from the movie comes from Jack, holding a chainsaw, standing next to Ron Richardson (Martin Mull) and discussing what kind of wiring Jack will use in renovating the house: “220, 221, whatever it takes,” Jack says.

“We’re doing the scene and it was okay,” Keaton told Esquire. “And I remember saying to the prop guy, ‘Go find me a chainsaw.’ When he comes back with it, he says, ‘You wanna wear these?’ And he holds up some goggles. I go, ‘Yeah.’ You know, they make me look crazy. And when Martin shows up, I know I should look under control, I’m not sweating it. I’m a dude. So we’re standing there, Martin pulls me aside and says, ‘You know what you ought to say? When I ask about the wiring, you oughta just deadpan: ‘220, 221.’ I died. It was perfect. I may have added ‘whatever it takes.’ But it was his.”

“That was a little ad-lib that we just threw in, but every carpenter or construction person I’ve ever worked with, they’re always quoting that line from Mr. Mom,” Mull told The A.V. Club.

8. MR. MOM OUTGROSSED HUGHES’S OTHER 1983 SUMMER MOVIE—VACATION.

Mr. Mom only opened on 126 screens on July 22, 1983, but managed to gross $947,197 during its opening weekend. Once the film went wide a month later to 1235 screens, it hit number one at the box office and spent five weeks at the top. By the end of its run, the film had grossed just shy of $65 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 1983 (just between Staying Alive and Risky Business). National Lampoon’s Vacation, Hughes’s other film that summer, came out July 29 and ended its theatrical run with $61,399,552 (at its height, it showed on 1248 screens). Vacation finished the year in 11th place.

9. THE MOVIE LED TO HUGHES BEING CALLED “A PURVEYOR OF HORNY SEX COMEDIES.”

During a 1986 interview with Seventeen magazine, Molly Ringwald asked the writer-director why he never showed teen sex in Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. “In Sixteen Candles, I figured it would only be gratuitous to show Samantha and Jake in anything more than a kiss,” he said. “The kiss is the most beautiful moment. I was really amused when someone once called me a ‘purveyor of horny sex comedies.’ He listed The Breakfast Club and Mr. Mom in parentheses. I thought, ‘What kind of sex?’ Yes, in Mr. Mom there’s a baby in a bathtub and you see its bare butt.”

10. MR. MOM WAS MADE INTO A TV MOVIE AFTER ALL.

In the beginning, producers wanted Mr. Mom to be a TV movie, not a feature film. But a year after the film came out in theaters, ABC produced a TV movie called Mr. Mom, with the same characters and premise. Barry Van Dyke played Jack and Rebecca York played Caroline. A People magazine review of the movie stated: “They and their three kids are immediately likable … But it goes downhill from there as the script lobotomizes all its characters. Here’s a textbook case in how TV takes a cute idea—and a script that does have some good lines—and leeches the wit out of it.”

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Central Press/Getty Images
Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
Central Press/Getty Images
Central Press/Getty Images

Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 119th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."


Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."


Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."


By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

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