Have you ever wondered who those people are in the opening credits sequence for Netflix’s Orange is the New Black? They’re certainly not the faces of the cast we’ve become acquainted with while watching the series.
Perhaps a clever way of laying the groundwork for a sequence that will work for years to come regardless of who might come and go from the show? If you don’t have the actual characters in there, you don’t have to change anything if, say, Laura Prepon leaves.
In reality, those are real women who have actually been to prison (and one of them is Piper Kerman, the woman who wrote the memoir upon which the show is based).
Co.Design has an interview with Gary Bryman, executive producer of Thomas Cobb Group, which designed the sequence. Here’s an excerpt:
“Our initial concept was to create a semi-surreal main title sequence of images from Piper’s point of view that would starkly contrast the hard, cold reality of her new imprisoned life against the imagined luxuries of her previous life.”
But creator Kohan wanted a title sequence suggesting the show would tell many incarcerated women’s stories, not just Piper’s. TCG’s solution was to photograph a full range of real women who had been in prison–from a most intimate, up-close, not typically TV-ready perspective, moles and all.
This is quite in line with the format of the series. While Piper (Chapman, on the show) is certainly a central character, OITNB is about many other people, and often explores the backstories of other characters. In fact, the characters are so well developed (and surely will continue to be as the show continues), it could probably go on as an entertaining series even without Piper’s character. That’s not an insult to Piper (either the real one or Taylor Schilling, who plays Chapman), but a testament to the show’s cast. That’s why even if Laura Prepon leaves the show, it will be just fine without her.
We already know that some characters are getting expanded roles in the second season, and at least one new character is being added. There will be no shortage of potential storylines to explore regardless of who leaves the show. It’s about people in a prison. There are always other faces and personalities, and that’s what makes the credits sequence work so well without any actual cast members.
The Regina Spektor song doesn’t hurt either.