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Piper Elizabeth Chapman, portrayed by Taylor Schilling, is the main character in the original Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Piper's character is based on the author of "Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison", Piper Kerman.

Overview

Childhood

Piper was born on June 7, 1981. She grew up on the east coast in an upper middle-class family and is a self-proclaimed WASP. She is the middle child, with an older and younger brother. Her older brother has been referenced as "the perfect son" but has not appeared in the series. Her younger brother, Cal, was generally regarded as the "black sheep" of the family, before her incarceration.

Her parents were obsessed with appearances and projected this onto their children, and her father subsequently is unable to visit his daughter behind bars. At the time of her incarceration, she is roughly 32 years old. She graduated from college, but spent some years after graduation travelling and seeking to find herself. During college, she meets her current bestfriend, Polly Harper, a bubbly fellow WASP.

Life with Alex

Looking for a job after graduating from college Piper, a self-proclaimed WASP from an upper middle-class family, meets edgy Alex Vause at a bar. Though she has never dated a woman before, they quickly begin a relationship. In love and thirsting for adventure, Piper is unbothered by the fact that her girlfriend is an international drug smuggler. They travel the world together in high style, and on one occasion Piper agrees to traffick a suitcase full of $50,000 in drug money to Belgium and immediately regrets it. Despite her discomfort in committing criminal acts herself, she is content to quit her job as a waitress just to travel with Alex to places as far-reaching as Bali, Cambodia, and Belgium, living off the enticing incentives of the global drug trade.

Eventually, Alex is desperate, and begs Piper to traffick again. Piper refuses, and they break up for good. Piper moves on much more quickly than Alex, who is heartbroken by their break-up and eventually turns to heroin to try to get over it.

Piper introduced Alex to Polly while they were dating, but her best friend openly did not like her. Piper did not introduce Alex to her family, though, as they were all surprised to find out she'd been in a homosexual relationship when she sat them down to explain the circumstances of her sentencing.

Life with Larry

Years later, Piper meets Larry Bloom, a mutual friend of Polly and her eventual husband, Pete. After chastising a homeless person for not taking care of his dog to her satisfaction, Piper is bitten by the beast. Using her extra key, she stumbles into Polly and Pete's apartment to find Larry. Larry is instantly attracted to her and helps her get cleaned up, and they unexpectedly bond. They jokingly wonder why Polly and Pete never thought to set them up before, but it quickly becomes apparent that no one really thinks that they're perfect together - not even them.

After the charges come through, just two years shy of the statute of limitations, Larry vows to stick by her and they sit down together to tell her family. Piper explains to her horrified mother that she was a lesbian at the time, but is not anymore, and is horrified herself to admit to her grandmother that she wasn't really into what she was doing for the money.

Spending a nice day at the beach to mark her remaining days of freedom, Piper is reading books about getting through prison when Larry unexpectedly proposes. Although she is surprised that he would do this before she leaves, he insists that he has to lock their relationship down. She tearfully accepts his proposal, and agrees to get married after she gets out of prison.

The day before she has to leave for prison, Larry, Pete, and Polly throw a farewell party for her. She apologizes to Polly because she is going to miss her baby shower, and the two joke about how Piper is going to keep her eyebrows maintained behind bars. Later that night, she and Larry decide to have sex one final time before she leaves. Just as they begin, she leaves to go pee and Larry tells her that she is beautiful. In the bathroom she sobs, the realization that she is leaving for prison hits her. When she comes back out, she returns Larry’s compliment and gets back into bed. When he notices that she has been crying she tells him to forget about it and just have sex with her.

Litchfield Prison

Season One

The story began when Piper, who lived with her fiance, Larry Bloom, found out she was named in a case of international drug trafficking and decided to turn herself in. In the first episode, she spent a lot of time with Larry and in her final moments before being taken in, she made sure he knew how much she loved him.

Although Piper tried hard not to get on anyone's bad side, she had a habit of saying the wrong things at the wrong time. Red, for instance, is the first person who suffered from her thoughtless words and in retaliation refused to give Chapman any meals, as she was the head cook of the prison's kitchen.

Season Two

Season 2 opens with Piper being ushered out of solitary as guards ignore her furtive questions. She is shoved into a van as she is transported with several other inmates to an unknown location. As the van finally comes to it's stop, Piper realizes that they are going on an airplane. Guards continue to ignore her questions. As the plane lands, she realizes that they have landed in Chicago and she comes to her own conclusion that she must have been transported for beating Doggett and she attempts to adjust to her new surroundings. She sees Alex in the yard one day and persuades a male inmate to bring the two together.

Piper discovers she is in Chicago to testify in the trial of Alex's drug boss, Kubra Balik, and the stay is temporary. Alex forcefully pushes Piper to lie about knowing Kubra, because Alex fears he will exact revenge. However, Piper wishes to tell the truth. We see several flashbacks from Piper's childhood noting her complicated past. Piper meets with her lawyer, Larry's father, who strongly advises her to tell the truth. In the van on the way to the trial, Alex pushes one last time for Piper to lie about knowing Kubra, saying she (Alex) will be screwed over if they don't tell the same story. Piper gives in and lies under oath at the trial. Afterwards, Howard, washes his hands of her. Alex then informs Piper that although Alex planned to lie she decided to tell the truth, as it "all happened so fast," which now completely screws over Piper; Piper now faces perjury charges and additional time. Piper shouts angrily at Alex, who is being led out of prison, ostensibly to be released.

Piper isn't seen again until Ep. 3 where she returns to prison. She is put back in the same room as when she first arrived. At lunch, she talks with Nicky about Alex, her paranoia that everyone keeps looking at her, and they both tell each other they missed each other. Piper is then seen comforting Brook Soso, a new inmate, because of her crying which was bothering the sleep of other inmates. She refuses to call Brook, "Soso" because "she can't say it with a straight face." The next day, she threatens Brook for lying in her bed, claiming that she is "A lone wolf who rips out the throat of sheep," shutting down Brook's friendly advances and leaving her stunned at the harshness of her words. Piper is also seen interacting with Suzanne Warren, thanking her profusely for making it look like a fair fight against Pennsatucky. Under the influence of Vee, Suzanne refuses Piper's offer of seeing the movie together, leaving Piper confused as Suzanne struts off with Vee.

Personality

In the beginning, Piper appears to be a somewhat innocent character who strives to be on her best behavior and not get in trouble with any of the inmates while doing her time quietly. However, throughout the series, a darker side of Piper is revealed, as she spends more time in prison, as one who could be bluntly cruel and manipulative to get what she wants, and heartlessly doing so, seen in her interactions with Brook Soso. Both sides of Piper are shown repeatedly throughout the series, albeit the former less the more time Piper spends in prison. Piper also has a habit of coming off as obnoxiously self-righteous at times, something that irritates many, but amazes others.

Physical Appearance

Piper has blonde hair, blue eyes, and a fish tattoo on the back of her neck. She is tall and thin, and so typical of the perfect female stereotype that her nickname in prison quickly becomes "Blondie." She also has other nicknames due to her appearance for example: "Taylor Swift" and "Dandelion".

She usually wears a white t-shirt under her tan jumpsuit, and she notes that the prison-issue canvas slip-ons look like trendy Toms.

Relationships

Romantic

  • Alex Vause (wife) -
  • Larry Bloom (ex-fiancee)

Friends

  • Nicky Nichols - Nicky takes an instant liking to Piper and is one of Piper's closest allies in Litchfield. She has no problem talking about things that make Piper uncomfortable such as her relationship with Alex.
  • Lorna Morello - Lorna is generally friendly to Piper all the time. She is the first inmate Piper speaks to and helps her adjust to prison life.
  • Yoga Jones - She was one of the first inmates to help out Piper.
  • Red - Initially Red is indifferent to Piper until Piper unknowingly insults her food. Red starves her out for disrespecting her food for a while until Piper creates a lotion made of pepper juice for her aching back which mends their relationship.
  • Anita DeMarc - Anita is part of the welcoming committee for new inmates that help them adjust to prison life. She's helpful to Piper.
  • Tasha Jefferson - Taystee happily sports a lock of Piper's blond hair. When she violates her parole purposely, she is assigned to be Piper's new roommate.
  • Polly Harper (?)- Polly is Piper's best friend from college. They had a soap business together which collapsed after Piper's incarceration and Polly's pregnancy. Eventually, she gets together with Larry which causes friction between their friendship.

Enemies

  • Pennsatucky (?) - Initially, Tiffany 'Pennsatucky' Dogett is friendly to Piper until Piper 'disrespects' her, which sends her on a quest to murder her. In their confrontation during the Christmas play, Piper angrily punches Pennsatucky repeatedly to the extent that she needs oral surgery for new teeth, something which she asked of Piper when she was elected a WAC member. Because of her new teeth, it seems as if Pennsatucky has gotten over their past conflicts and happily hugs Piper on Caputo's orders.
  • Healy (?)- Initially, Healy is lenient towards Piper and offers his assistance to her in the belief that "she's not like the other girls." When he learns of Piper's sexual history, he becomes more hostile towards her, going to the point of locking her in solitary just because her and Alex were dancing close. Later in Season 2 Healy helped Piper receive furlough for her Grandmothers funeral. Later he allows her to start a newsletter and they seem to bond over this. 

Novel

In an interview by a YouTube channel known as 'HeyUGuys,' Schilling explains that the show is not trying to 'impersonate' the author. Piper Chapman is an individual character who does not solidly resemble Kerman and her experience in prison; however, as the series was inspired by her book, some of the events in the series are similar to those that take place in her publication.

Memorable Quotes

Am I supposed to prison-fight an Old Russian lady with back problems?
~ Piper Chapman to Larry.
We can't know that yet. Maybe they'll still meet some of our demands. Maybe some grandma in Kansas will read an article about this and she'll see us as people instead of criminals. And then maybe she'll tell all of her grandma friends and they'll tell their kids, and then they'll tell their grandkids. I mean, isn't that how change really happens? Through Midwestern grandmas having epiphanies? Maybe that will have made all of this worth it."
~ Piper to Alex Vause, Blanca Flores, Galina Reznikov and Frieda Berlin.
Will you be my girlfriend?
~ Piper Chapman to Alex.
Why do you always feel so inevitable to me?
~ Piper Chapman to Alex.
Bitches gots to learn.
~ Piper Chapman.
Well, guess what, I'm really fucking angry, because I love you Alex. I love you and I fucking... hate you
~ Piper Chapman to Alex Vause.
Sisters, we may be incarcerated, but our panties will travel the world.
~ Piper Chapman.
I too was once embarrassed and squeamish by my personal eau de parfum but then I thought, Why Should I be ashamed? Isn't that a part of the self-hatred that has been bred in to me by the patriarchy? And are those same men that would shame me, not the same men that would wear my panties on their faces inhaling deeply?Ladies, now is the time to be bold, for when these men smell your panties they're smelling your character. Let them smell daring and courage. Let them smell women who are unabashed and unselfconscious, and let them say that that Litchfield... Litchfield is a place where women loved their bodies and have love to spare. Sisters! We may be incarcerated, but our panties will travel the world, and in that way, long after we are gone, our smell, our smell will linger in some gas station in Toronto, in some office cubicle in Tokyo, and in that way we are known, and in that way we are remembered. Do you want to be remembered? Then sweat profusely and fart with abandon and make a reek. Make a reek my sisters! Make a reek to last one thousand years!
~ Piper Chapman.
Just thinking about when I first got here and all the shit you put me through. And now I'm at the big girl's table! Chapman and Reznikov sit here...and Norma.
~ Piper Chapman to Red and Norma (Power Suit).
Is this a real riot? This is a real riot. If this is a real riot, do you think this is a step forward or backwards in equality?
~ Piper Chapman to Alex Vause (Riot FOMO).
You know, I could tell you a lot of things that would scare you, Dina. I could tell you that I'm gonna make you my prison bitch, I could tell you that I'm gonna make you my house mouse, that I will have sex with you even if we don't have an emotional connection. That I'm gonna do to you what the spring does with the cherry trees, but in a prison way. Pablo Neruda. But why bother? You're too tough, right? Yeah, I know how easy it is to convince yourself you're something that you're not. Oh, you can do that on the outside. You can just keep moving. Keep yourself so busy you don't have to face who you really are. But you're weak. ... I'm weak too. I can't get through this without somebody to touch, without somebody to love. Is that because sex numbs the pain, or is it because I'm some evil fuck-monster? I don't know. But I do know, I was somebody before I came in here. I was somebody with a life that I chose for myself. And now— now it's just about getting through the day without crying. And I'm scared. I'm still scared. I'm scared that I'm not myself in here, and I'm scared that I am. Other people aren't the scariest part of prison, Dina, it's coming face-to-face with who you really are. Because once you're behind these walls, there's nowhere to run, even if you could run. The truth catches up with you in here, Dina. And it's the truth that's gonna make you her bitch.
~ Piper Chapman to Dina.

Trivia

  • As of season 7, Piper has appeared in 90 out of 91 episodes, the most of any character. The only episode she is absent from is Looks Blue, Tastes Red.
  • Piper had an online blog.
  • Piper was born on June 7, 1981.
  • She is a Gemini and was born at 11:42 A.M. in Connecticut, as she revealed in "Thirsty Bird".
  • She isn't religious and labels herself as "secular humanist" because she thinks that agnosticism was "sort of a cop-out", as explained by herself in "Fool Me Once".
  • She doesn't like Chicago's deep-dish style pizza, as mentioned by Larry and Polly in "Thirsty Bird".
  • She is right-handed.
  • It has been revealed that Piper is a Slytherin, as mentioned in "Flaming Hot Cheetos, Literally".
  • Piper sometimes uses ‘progressive muscle relaxation’ to fall asleep.
  • By the end of Season 5, she had “3 months” left. However due to her participation in the riot, she has gotten 6 additional months, but then she is given early release.
  • She cannot excrete on-demand "State of the Uterus".
  • She is 'peaking' right now according to a quiz she took with Alex.
  • Although Piper was early released, she wasn't meant to be. Linda stated the top 25 inmates (safest) should be released. However, Piper was #82 before Hopper removed all her shots and incidents from her record.