The Best Arcs and Characters From Orange is the New Black

by Evil Jenji

This will be a controversial subject, everyone has their opinion. So think now, which characters from Orange is the New Black with the best stories had a better challenge? This is called the character arc.

A character arc is the path a character takes over the course of a story. The character’s arc involves adversity and challenges, as well as some changes to the character, and ultimately leads to resolution. Character arcs generally progress in tandem with traditional three-act story structure.

Having explained what it means, you can now start thinking about which ones you prefer on OITNB. We have so many great characters written with mastery that any of them I would have good arguments to defend. But I’m going to choose 3, who were supporting to the lead actress. Not only for the role and script, but for the actress who played.

It is very complicated to say that only a few roles in OITNB can turn into spin-offs. Of the more than 100 characters, I could easily say that only a few I wouldn’t spin-off. We must give this credit to Jenji Kohan and his team, and more, to the actors who together built very interesting characters. Nothing in a series can come down to one person. The greatest merit of Orange is the New Black has always been the set.

When we talk about character arcs, it is a little more restricted factor, it is as if each character had a line in which all their challenges were marked, the bigger and more intense this line, the better the arc. I’m just trying to simplify it for everyone.

There are three characters that surprised me the most in this regard. Let’s start with Dayanara Diaz (by Dascha Polanco).

Dayanara Diaz (by Dascha Polanco)

If you want to better understand Dayanara in each season of the series CLICK HERE. Daya has traveled a path full of changes in this story. She started out as an innocent delinquent, probably had what I would call a more conventional love affair (can we call it that?) From the series with guard Bennett. The character as it was conceived in the first seasons seems pretty common to me. But I also believe that was the idea, and then subvert it. To this day, fans wonder: What happened to Bennett? There are several theories about this. In my theory, Bennett was just a weak man who turned his back when he saw his life was going to get messy. Do you know anyone like him? Probably yes.

Daya’s life is very troubled, even at the beginning. She can easily transition between many character changes. She fell in love, got pregnant, had sex with guard Mendez, became a drug dealer, head of the drug trade and then murdered, making all of this a story that never ceased to be believable. Dascha’s performance made us believe in every moment and every change.

Jen Euston on choosing Dascha Polanco: “Daya was a hard part to cast. We had to see a lot of people for that. I brought Dascha back a couple of times because I really believed in her and really thought she was right for it. That was one we weren’t getting for some reason, but I knew Dascha was kind of right because physically and her demeanor was what Daya had to be. Plus, with Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez) in the prison with her, she has this dominant mother figure, so Dascha I brought back a couple of times because I wanted to try her again because I thought she could do it.”

Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett 

From the beginning, Taryn Manning’s talent was known. She was given the chance to play crazy Doggett . I hated the character. I could queue up a lot of unpleasant adjectives. As I read later, Taryn had nothing in common with the character. The character arc is one of the most interesting of the series because it has a very clear beginning, middle and end, a growth full of challenges. I came to love Pennsatucky. The scene of her with her father on a boat when he simply dismisses her as a human being touched me deeply. Pure art. We all know the final path of the character, it’s heartbreaking. I could consider Jenji Kohan a genius just for having created Pennsatucky from the first and last seasons. I could consider Taryn Manning a wonderful actress just for taking part in OITNB. Pick her favorite scene of hers, mine is this one.

Pennsatucky has always been a loser, and knowing why makes us understand how small events can transform a life. We have seen this many times around us.

In an interview with Cast Director Jen Euston: The choice for Taryn Manning was by Jenji Kohan herself. Taryn Manning was off the list. They just offered it to her. She didn’t even read it.

More About Orange is the New Black

Danielle Brooks as Taystee

The big highlight of Taystee’s character throughout the Orange series is that New Black will one day be responsible for bringing the series back, possibly in spin-off form. Taystee is beautifully built and is present at the biggest events in the 7 seasons. In my opinion she was also Jenji Kohan’s Trojan horse. We see ourselves in the beginning of the series falling in love with the character little by little, with his quirky sense of humor, and the intelligence of Litchfield’s Black core. Taystee clearly took charge of the show from season four onwards. No one deserves a spin-off more than her. With the murder of best friend Poussey, as a witness to Piscatella’s death, for the betrayal of best friend Black Cindy, for the unfair trial at the end. Okay she created the Poussey foundation, but we want a lot more from her, but today her role in society could be much more important, as a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Jen Euston about Danielle Brooks: Brooks was kind of exactly what Taystee was supposed to be in a weird way. She has a joy about her and that’s what Jenji wanted for Taystee. The whole thing with Taystee is that she’s not someone who’s down and out that she’s in prison — this is a home for her. From the get-go, we wanted the joy, and Brooks had a beautiful voice for the opening scene when they’re in the shower and she sings ‘Natural Woman.’ She was just lovely and funny and she talked about Piper’s breasts and then sang in the shower and went for it. That was all it took.”

If you’d like to read Jen Euston’s full interview on the actresses’ choices, click HERE.

Orange’s script is so brilliantly written that choosing the character’s best arc is almost a personal opinion, not a technical one. Maybe one day Jenji Kohan can explain this in person. There’s a lot to discover about the series. I would say a behind-the-scenes book on the series would be really well. The way it was built deserves a detailed explanation of how to deal with so many outstanding characters without losing any.

As for these 3 exceptional actresses, I’m sure you liked my choice but probably your choice would have been different. Ok, this is part of the beauty of OITNB, everywhere you look there is something worth discovering. This only confirms that the only difficulty for a spin-off would be to choose which side the story should be best told. Quite a challenge, too good.

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