Season 3 of Orange Is the New Black is here, and fans have already started to binge-watch the prison drama-comedy. One of the biggest draws to the show is the variety and complexity of the characters’ relationships. With each season, the writers have mixed up the group dynamics and created new and unexpected friendships, romances, or rivalries.
Orange Is the New Black has so many great relationships that it was impossible for them all to make the list. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather to show the broad spectrum of relationships, from the weird and dysfunctional to the tight-knit and loving. Read on for the relationships of Orange Is the New Black, from horrifying to heartwarming. And warning: There are major spoilers ahead for Seasons 1 and 2.
Horrifying: Morello and Christopher
All through the first and some of the second season, Lorna Morello cannot stop talking about her wonderful fiancé Christopher and how she is planning her wedding for when she gets out. During her big flashback episode, it’s revealed that Christopher isn’t her fiancé. They went out on one date, and after he tried to break it off, she stalked him, even planting a homemade bomb under his car.
The moment when she breaks into his house, steals a teddy bear, and sits in his whirlpool bath (wearing his actual fiancé’s veil) might be the height of insanity.
Almost Totally Pointless: Larry and Polly
It isn’t that Larry and Polly are wrong for each other, that Polly is Piper’s best friend, or that Polly was still married when Larry kissed her. The thing is, who cares about Larry and Polly, really? Is anyone watching Orange Is the New Black for these two?
Jason Biggs and Maria Dizzia are fine actors, but their characters are basically pointless. Larry and Polly’s sexual tension and their guilt over betraying Piper is not compelling, but it definitely gets screen time in Season 2. Meanwhile, Vee is building a drug empire in Litchfield and Red is using the greenhouse to smuggle in contraband. This is about priorities.
Skeevy: Caputo and Fischer
Caputo is never skeevier than when he is trying to flirt with Fischer. Even when he convinces a desperate Fig to give him a blow job, his interactions with Fischer are still much worse. It’s unclear whether Fischer ever picks up on his crush, but if she did, she dropped plenty of hints that she wasn’t interested. He should have taken that hint after she brought a date to his band’s Valentine’s Day gig.
The reason why Caputo’s behavior toward Fischer is so awful and why it’s so low on the list is because he ultimately fires her over it. It can be argued that he was trying to set an example and could have fired anyone, but he was inclined to pick her because of his unrequited crush.
Somewhat Obnoxious: Larry and Piper
Piper and Larry’s engagement is, as Alex puts it, the “yuppie brass ring,” and wow, these two really are the epitome of irritating yuppie nonsense. From their juice cleanses to their orgasmic reactions to organic groceries, they’re privileged and educated, but lacking in common sense. When Piper goes to prison, Piper and Larry make sense as a couple, but the longer they go without their Mad Men marathons, the more they grow apart. If anything, going to prison makes them realize that they don’t love each other as much as they enjoy some of the same stuff, and for Piper, Larry is safe. He is basically the opposite of Alex, which is what Piper wants right now, but probably not for the rest of her life.
Toxic Romance: Piper and Alex
Some fans of the show might disagree with Piper and Alex being so far down on the list, but their on-again, off-again relationship is one of the most toxic relationships of the show. They might have sexual chemistry, but that’s the best thing they have going for them. Alex has lied and betrayed Piper again and again. She spent almost the entire first season telling Piper that she didn’t name her, but of course she did. She spent the entire premiere of Season 2 telling Piper that she has to lie under oath, and then she screws her over. Long before that, Alex slept with Piper while she was still dating someone else.
Neither of them are bad people. Alex isn’t to blame for Piper breaking the law. Piper is a big girl, and she made that decision all on her own. Whenever Alex and Piper get together, however, it never ends well, and if the previews are any indication, their tumultuous romance isn’t over yet.
Puppy Love: Piper and Crazy Eyes
Suzanne, also known as Crazy Eyes,’ and her relationship with Piper is entirely one-sided, but somehow, it’s still healthier than Piper’s relationship with Alex. That is saying a lot, considering that Crazy Eyes pees on the floor of Piper and Miss Claudette’s bunk.
The crush started when Crazy Eyes got Piper the peppers she needed to make the lotion for Red. Soon, she was following Piper everywhere and requesting that they be bunk mates. When she finally gets the hint, Suzanne lives up to her name and goes a little crazy, but Piper isn’t clean in all of this. She tells Larry all these stories about Suzanne, which he recounts in his big radio show appearance as well as sharing her cruel nickname.
After that, Suzanne gives Piper a dose of reality and says what so many fans had been feeling all through Season 1, that Piper is “not a nice person.” There’s no doubt Suzanne came on way too strong to Piper, but unlike Alex, she told Piper the truth. Plus, who doesn’t love a good swirl?
A Lopsided Romance: Dayanara and Bennett
Dayanara and Bennett are another case of a romance that has been embraced by the fans, but still has a lot of problems. Season 1 only briefly touched on it, but Season 2 delved more into the power dynamics between Dayanara and Bennett and why the law dictates that what they did can’t be considered consensual.
Do they care about each other? Of course. Bennett definitely wants to take care of her and their baby, but no matter what they might feel for each other, he will always hold more power than Dayanara in the relationship. The best example is in “Comic Sans” when some of the Spanish girls try to blackmail Bennett for iPods and porn, and in retaliation, Bennett gives them all shots and sends Ramos to SHU. The most revealing part of the whole scene is when Ramos asks what Caputo will think when he hears Bennett “raped an inmate,” and rather than deny it’s rape, Bennett replies, “He’s not going to find out.”
Besides that, there’s the fact that Bennett is willing to let Pornstache take the fall for him and in the process, deny that he is the father of Dayanara’s child. At the end of Season 2, Dayanara indicated that she is pretty fed up with him, so this relationship could hit some real rough patches in Season 3.
Gay Panic: Big Boo and Pennsatucky
The friendship between Big Boo and Pennsatucky could potentially move up the list if it gets more screen time in Season 3. As it is, this odd couple is thrown together during the storm in Season 2’s penultimate episode “It Was the Change.”
In their brief shared screen time, though, they went from almost strangers to practically buddies. Maybe it’s because Big Boo shared her potato chips, or maybe Pennsatucky is afraid of the impending lesbian uprising.
Anger Management: Pennsatucky and Healy
In Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2, a meaningful friendship between Healy and Pennsatucky seemed completely unlikely. Pennsatucky had her teeth fixed, which was seemingly coordinated by Healy to shut her up about the fight with Piper. Aside from their conservative values, they didn’t have a compelling reason to spend time together.
When Healy tries conquering his anger issues in Season 2, however, he finds common ground with Pennsatucky. They share snacks during the hurricane and start a support group together called Safe Place. Though Safe Place isn’t the success that Healy hopes for, Pennsatucky tells him that he has made a positive change in her life. After years of dealing with the prison-system bureaucracy, this is exactly what Healy needs to hear.
Mommy Dearest: Taystee and Vee
Taystee and Vee fall this high on the list, not because their relationship is healthy (it’s not), but because these ties run deep. Alex and Piper have history, but this goes all the way back to Taystee’s childhood. Vee is the closest thing to a mother that Taystee ever had, and she offered Taystee a way to make more money and have more security than she did flipping burgers. When Taystee was working for Vee, she had a home and a family of sorts with Vee and RJ. She had someone who would cook a homemade meal and take care of her. That isn’t the kind of relationship that someone breaks off easily.
Vee skillfully manipulates Taystee, isolates her from Poussey, and gets most of the black inmates working for her, all in a very short amount of time. It’s especially impressive because, when Vee first arrives, Taystee says she wants nothing to do with her. This makes it even more significant when she breaks with Vee once and for all, and it makes their relationship one of the more complex of the show.
Queen Bee and Her Lackey: Red and Norma
Red and Norma have been through a lot together. Norma remembers Red’s early days at Litchfield when she was a scared newbie. She was the only witness to Vee and her girls beating Red and leaving her bleeding on the floor of the kitchen. During Red’s family dinner in Season 2, she calls Norma her “best friend.”
So, why is their relationship so low on the list? That mainly has to do with how Red treated Norma when she was at the height of her power at Litchfield and worse, how she used Norma when she started losing that power. When things were good for Red, Norma was still the one shaving Red’s legs and plucking hairs out of her moles. Murphy might have been burned (literally) by Red’s meddling in the kitchen, but the betrayal for Norma ran deeper. Hopefully after losing Norma at the end of Season 1 and most of Season 2, Red will appreciate and treat Norma better than she did before.
The Odd Couple: Sophia and Sister Jane
Like many of the relationships in Orange Is the New Black, the friendship between Sophia and Sister Jane starts because one of them needs something from the other. Sophia wants Sister Jane’s hormones, and Sister Jane knows it. Rather than throw it in Sophia’s face, Sister Jane takes the opportunity to get to know her better and counsel her through the problems with her son.
Once Sophia gets over her disappointment, she starts confiding in Sister Jane more, and they co-direct the Litchfield Christmas pageant.
Dumb and Dumber: Flaca and Maritza
Flaca and Maritza are the second dumbest pair in Litchfield, only beaten out by the Meth Heads, but they’re really sweet together. Unlike some of the friendships that develop amongst the inmates, their relationship never turns sexual. At the Valentine’s Day party, they kiss out of curiosity, but the result is disappointing and ends in giggles.
Pornstache and His Mustache
George Mendez, better known as “Pornstache,” really loves his mustache. It’s a relationship without troubles, complications, or power struggles. Nothing will come between this man and his facial hair, not even rumors from Caputo that mustaches are now a “gay thing.”
“No. F*ck, not gay. The stache is not for fags. It’s for f*cking men. It’s f*cking all beef. F*ckin’ c*nt-rammin’ awesome.”
F*ck Buddies: Big Boo and Nicky
Big Boo and Nicky have always been a bit competitive, but their friendly competition hit a peak in Season 2 with their sex contest. They fingered, licked, sucked and “perkled” and racked up an impressive number of orgasms by the end of their contest. When they decided to call it a tie, they immediately jumped into another contest, a cookie-eating contest. Their rivalry is one of the funniest running gags of Season 2.
Poultry Passion: Red and That Damn Chicken
In Season 1, Piper sees a chicken in the yard and reignites the myth and fervor surrounding it. Soon, everyone in Litchfield is after that damn chicken, but by far, the inmate most excited about the chicken is Red. Red’s feelings for Litchfield’s elusive bird are stronger because she wanted that chicken long before Piper ever showed up, and ultimately, her feelings are unrequited.
At the end of “The Chickening,” the chicken still runs free, and the mystery remains. Did it have magical chicken powers? Was it secretly hiding drugs or candy? No one will ever know, except the chicken itself.
The Best Around: Taystee and Poussey
Taystee and Poussey are just the best, and their estrangement in Season 2 is so painful that, without Big Boo and Nicky’s sex contest, Sophia introducing the ladies to their own vaginas, and O’Neill yelling at nuns, it would have been completely depressing. For Taystee, Poussey is the only person who looked out for her and didn’t have an ulterior motive. Poussey loved her, even when Taystee pushed her away. She was the only person to openly challenge Vee, and she put herself at risk in standing up to her. All I hope is that in Season 3, they get to be happy, at least for a little while.
“Everyone I know is poor, in jail, or gone. Don’t nobody ask about how my day went…I know how to play it here. Where to be, and what rules to follow. I got a bed. And I got you.”