Orange is the New Black is easily one of the most bingeable shows the world has ever seen. Once known as the reason why many people signed up to Netflix, the series is based on Piper Kerman’s prison memoir of the same name, but has taken that story to the extreme.
Artistic licence has been consistently at play throughout OITNB‘s run, and that shows no sign of slowing down if the recent sixth season is anything to go by.
Introducing a whole bunch of new characters, while cutting out some of the ensemble cast that had helped make the show so successful to this point, writers have divided viewers on whether or not this almost “reboot” of the series is one they can get behind.
It’s fair to say that this isn’t the only bump in the road that OITNB has suffered – season 5 had its fair share of critics who thought the series had started the jump over the proverbial shark.
Whichever side of the fence you fall on, however, it’s hard to deny that those working on casting the characters in OITNB have made all the right decisions in seasons already gone by.
In fact, there are some members of the cast who have been with the show since the start, and who some actually think should have been cut a long time ago.
We’ve decided to take a look at those very members of the cast here, as well as some of the best that the show has had to offer.
Here are the 10 Casting Decisions That Hurt Orange Is The New Black (And 10 That Saved It).
20 Hurt: Amanda Fuller as Madison “Badison” Murphy
Every show needs its villain, and “Badison” fills that slot in season 6. While it’s always good when the audience can get behind hating a character who’s supposed to be universally despised, Amanda Fuller never really ticks off all of the right boxes.
What many shows and indeed movies suffer from when it comes to choosing and developing villains is their overall lack of believability.
We never really saw exactly why Madison is the way she is, other than being picked on in her younger years.
That character development (or lack thereof) has diminished any good work that Fuller may have been able to do in bringing Madison to life.
If she had been given a better back story, perhaps we would have different views on Madison.
19 Saved: Yvonne Parker as Vee
When the first season of OITNB came to a close, many wondered just how the showrunners would go above and beyond to match the brilliance of the episodes that they’d seen.
In came Yvonne Parker, as the resident Big Bad, Vee.
Parker brought a charisma to her villainous role that has never quite been mirrored by another OITNB antagonist – she was somebody you wanted to root for at times because of her friendship with Taystee, despite all of her misgivings.
This made it hard to hate her, although it was clear that she only cared about her own interests and would stop at nothing to achieve her goals.
She also did well to mirror the excellence of Kate Mulgrew’s “Red.”
18 Hurt: Matt McGorry as C.O. John Bennett
Matt McGorry was never bad in his role of C.O. John Bennett, but when he picked up a leading position in Shonda Rhimes’ hit series How To Get Away With Murder, his character had to be written out of OITNB for good.
We’re not sure writers would have gone in the same direction they did had McGorry not picked up another job, so it was disappointing to see his story come to such a strange end.
He was a good man – not somebody who would drive off into the sunset because of new responsibilities as the father of Daya’s child.
This made his character’s arc highly confusing to fans, as it was hard to see him as a bad guy.
17 Saved: Danielle Brooks as Taystee
Danielle Brooks has been allowed to show off all of levels of her acting ability throughout her OITNB journey to-date.
In the show’s earliest days, she was the welcome comic relief, but in the series’ most recent episodes, she’s facing the toughest challenge that we’ve seen any character go up against, as she faces life in prison and the possibility of capital punishment for taking a life of a guard, which she didn’t do.
Brooks has had us both crying with laughter and crying from sadnesse due to all of the disasters that befall good-spirited Taystee.
These are the signs of an incredibly special actress, and somebody we know will be in the spotlight for some time to come.
16 Hurt: Pablo Schreiber as George “Pornstache” Mendez
There’s always been a certain level of “camp” within OITNB, especially in its earliest days, but having Pablo Schreiber ham it up in the role of evil C.O. “P**nstache” meant that most fans could never really take him seriously.
He had some horrific scenes that saw him force himself upon prisoners, but the impact that those sequences should have had on audiences was never fully felt because of the over-acting that Schreiber often engaged in.
It’s a shame, as the character could have gone down in history as one of the most terrible of all time.
Fortunately, that “hammy” acting is something Schreiber excels in doing in Starz series American Gods as Mad Sweeney, a role he was made for.
15 Saved: Vicci Martinez as Daddy
The biggest standout member of season 6’s additional cast came in the form of “Daddy” – an incredibly flirtatious and charismatic maximum security prisoner played by Vicci Martinez.
Doing her all to dig her claws into Daya as soon as she entered the compound, audiences were a little wary of Daddy’s intentions at first, but she quickly proved herself to be a caring and loyal friend.
When some of the magic of Litchfield seemed to have gone, Daddy brought a sprinkle of it back.
It was great to see her in action in scenes where she was allowed to let her guard down, as well as those where the going got a little tough.
14 Hurt: Jason Biggs as Larry Bloom
Many people have never been fully convinced that Larry Bloom is a character who needed to make his way to OITNB.
This is, in part, due to the performance given by Jason Biggs.
Now, we’re not downplaying Biggs’ talents when it comes to acting. He’s brilliant in the American Pie series and has quite rightly carved out a hugely successful acting career.
However, when it comes to Larry, he’s just not the right fit for the role.
We may be being a little unfair, as we’re not sure anybody could have made the whiny and annoying Larry watchable, but unfortunately, the axe has to fall on Biggs’ head for this one, along with the casting team’s.
13 Saved: Samira Wiley as Poussey Washington
Poussey Washington is perhaps the most beloved prison character that the small screen has ever seen. Samira Wiley did such a brilliant job of bringing her to life that her presence is still being felt two seasons on after her character tragically passed away.
Always chasing something more, Poussey finally seemed to find peace in OITNB season 4, especially when she and Soso begin to connect.
However, when her life was taken by an untrained guard within Litchfield, the prison lost its shine forever.
Wiley made sure that she gave a performance that would ensure that fans would never find peace with her passing, setting them off on a course of unmasking the truth alongside another series fan-favorite, Taystee.
12 Hurt: Annie Golden as Norma Romano
Annie Golden may be another member of the cast who suffered because of the character she was given to play in OITNB, rather than due to her own ability as an actress.
Norma is boring – there are no two ways about it. Giving her such a huge storyline and having a cult of prisoners under her wing seemed to be just too much pressure for Golden, and the plot never took off with audiences.
This was a shame, as this was the only time Norma was given the spotlight in the series.
Unbelievable throughout, having Norma in OITNB just reminded viewers that they were watching a TV show.
With series like this, there has to be many layers of believability, and that never happened for Golden.
11 Saved: Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols
As yet another American Pie alum, Natasha Lyonne signed up to play Nicky Nichols from the very first season of OITNB.
It’s been quite a journey for the character, who we’ve seen relapse on a number of occasions, and even head to maximum security in the past (though the cameras didn’t follow her journey there, unfortunately).
Nichols has really stepped up her game in the show’s sixth season, proving why she’s a force to be reckoned with as an actress, and letting audiences fall in love with her character all over again.
We just hope her that relationship with “Red” is one that can return to the way it was in earlier seasons, as it’s difficult to see them separated.
10 Hurt: Dascha Polanco as Dayanara Diaz
It’d be fair to say that Dascha Polanco has been given plenty of meaty storylines to chew on as Dayanara Diaz, especially when she became pregnant with C.O. John Bennet’s child, but it’s only in the show’s most recent season that she’s managed to strike a chord with viewers.
Daya is somebody who we should have all been rooting for since day one, and while we’ve empathized with her on occasion, that’s more down to the character’s development rather than due to Polanco’s earliest performances.
We’re hoping that season 6 is a sign of what’s to come from the actress, and we’ll be rethinking our decision to put her on this list in the coming years.
9 Saved: Adrienne C. Moore as Cindy Hayes
Adrienne C. Moore is a star, period. The majority of us hadn’t seen her working until her time came to play Cindy Hayes in OITNB, but boy are we happy that the casting gods came together to bring her onto the show.
As Taystee’s journey has taken a dark turn, Cindy has remained (up until the back-end of season 6) the comic relief that distracts us from the disasters going on in and around Litchfield.
She also took up the mantle of Suzanne’s protector at the beginning of season 6, which we’re grateful for.
She’s somebody who can put a smile on your face no matter what’s happening, and Moore must be applauded for that skill.
Whenever she pops up on screen, viewers know they’re in for an interesting few minutes.
8 Hurt: Alysia Reiner as Natalie Figueroa
As was the case with Dascha Polanco, Alysia Reiner really stepped her game up in the show’s most recent season.
Unfortunately, her earliest episodes are some that had us rolling our eyes and wondering why on Earth she was a member of the cast at all.
There have been quite a few “filler” sequences thrown out throughout OITNB‘s run so far, and Reiner has been involved in many of them. She’s someone who we think wouldn’t even exist if the show were one that ran for 30-minutes per episode, for example.
For this reason, we question if she’s really necessary to the story at all if not only to annoy prison administer Joseph Caputo.
7 Saved: Matt Peters as Joel Luschek
Not all prison guards are terrible, as proven by Joel Luschek. Matt Peters has done such a great job of bringing him to life that we can forgive his love for the inhumane game of Fantasy Inmate played in maximum security.
With plenty of flaws, Peters does a great job of balancing his character’s moral compass.
On one hand, he can be a truly awful and despicable character who does whatever he wants just because he can. However, on the other, he’s shown that he has a heart and genuine appreciation for what Litchfield’s inmates have been going through.
Whether or not he’ll return after that season 6 finale, however, remains to be seen.
6 Hurt: Michael Harney as Sam Healy
Could one man really be driven to hate women so much that he sets one up to have her life taken under his watch? Writers certainly thought so when they brought Sam Healy to OITNB.
However, Michael Harney never fully delivered the villainous performance that he had been tasked with, at least not as far as most fans were concerned.
We know that people like Sam unfortunately really do exist in the real world, and so he should have been a believable character from day one. Unfortunately, however, this never really happened, and we found ourselves checking social media whenever he appeared on screen.
Still, he must have some fans, as he made a cameo appearance in season 6 of the show.
5 Saved: Selenis Leyva as Gloria Mendoza
Though she’s not been on the same “side” as the audience on a number of occasions, Gloria Mendoza is somebody who the viewers can truly respect.
This is down to Selenis Leyva’s incomparable performance in OITNB, as she’s truly one of the best talents to grace the small screen in the modern day.
Leyva is so good that whenever she’s not involved in a scene, most fans sit wondering in the back of their mind just when they’ll be graced with her presence again – and what exactly she’ll be up to this time.
She may be scary to some, but for viewers, she’s got a huge heart of gold and always does her best to stick to the right path.
4 Hurt: Ruby Rose as Stella Carlin
When it was revealed that Ruby Rose would be joining the cast of OITNB, the world went wild. When we finally saw her make her debut as Stella Carlin in the show, however, it was all a bit of a let down.
Not only was the story lacking for Rose, but her performance was a stale one that seemed to have been done on shows of this type a million times before.
Despite being sent to maximum security, we didn’t see her at all in season 6, and to be frank, the episodes were a lot better for it.
She’s more of a distraction than somebody who adds any kind of weight to the series’ overall direction.
3 Saved: Kate Mulgrew as Galina “Red” Reznikov
From OITNB‘s earliest seasons, “Red” has been somebody who the prisoners of Litchfield have looked up to.
Not only that, but Kate Mulgrew managed to get audiences to feel exactly the same way with her performance.
Believability is a huge part of why Mulgrew has seen such success in the role – we believe that she cares deeply for each of the girls she’s taken under her wing, and at times we’d even love to be a part of her adopted family.
Her best scene came in season 5 when she stood up to evil prison guard Piscatella.
She didn’t win that battle, and her pain was something that we all felt as we watched her red locks scalped from her head.
2 Hurt: Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman
Taylor Schilling is an incredible actress – this is not something that’s up for debate. When you’re playing the lead of a series such as OITNB, though, you have to bring a likability to that character.
However, this has never happened for Piper Chapman.
We don’t hate Chapman, but she’s never given viewers a real reason to root for her.
We’ve felt sorry for her at times, but then she goes and does something terrible, like calling herself “gangsta.”
Writers are so aware of this, in fact, that they’ve actually written it in as part of the story.
We saw her ask why everybody wants to mess with her in season 6, leading to Taystee being incredibly frank and laying out why her privilege is so annoying.
1 Saved: Uzo Aduba as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren
Yes, we have saved the best for last. Suzanne Warren is a Litchfield inmate with plenty of demons, but a heart of gold.
Uzo Aduba is so far and away from the character that she has to be lauded for her performance as “Crazy Eyes,” as she makes Suzanne so entirely believable.
Writers did a good job of ensuring that Suzanne wouldn’t just be a source of comedy, but rather an eye-opening character who could truly break down the stigma when it came to discussing mental health.
Aduba has taken charge of this role with both hands, smashing every scene that she’s been a part of and ensuring that everyone who sat watching at home has something to talk about.
What do you think? Are there any other Orange is the New Black casting decisions that hurt or saved the show? Sound off in the comments!