A Newcomer's Guide to 'Orange Is the New Black': Why Laura Prepon Can't Leave the Show!

The actress will reportedly not be a series regular for Season 2. In case you haven't had a chance to catch the show (and you should!), here's what you need to know

If you haven't been watching the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, you probably know Laura Prepon as Donna from That '70s Show. (Also, if you haven't been watching Orange is the New Black, you need to start immediately. But we'll get to that in a minute.) Prepon has dyed her hair black and donned hipster glasses to play Alex Vause, an ex-drug runner serving hard time at the fictional Litchfield Prison. She's a major part of the show's drama. And now she may be leaving. Say it ain't so!

Buzzfeed reports that Prepon will not be a series regular in Season 2, which has already begun shooting. According to the website's sources, the actress will come back for a "limited number of episodes" to resolve her story. And while she may come back in the future, she'll be out the door before the next 13 episodes are over.

This is a major blow to fans, and Netflix has already gone into crisis-management mode, explaining that nothing is set in stone. A rep for the streaming media service says that Buzzfeed's report is "not accurate."

"Our season is still developing and nothing is confirmed," the Netflix rep told E! Online.

Okay, so there's still a chance! We'll take it.

For those of you who aren't watching, let us explain why Prepon leaving would be such a big deal. Orange is the New Black, loosely based on a memoir by Piper Kerman, is the story of a 35-year-old Brooklynite named Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) who gets a jail sentence for being a drug mule in her early 20s. The drug ring was organized by Alex Vause (Prepon), who was Piper's girlfriend at the time. When the show begins, Piper is leaving her male fiance (Jason Biggs) and professional life for a 15-month sentence in a low-security women's prison. Surprise, surprise: Her ex-girlfriend is serving a sentence at the same prison. And their complicated relationship -- Do they still love each other? Hate each other? -- fuels one of the most compelling love triangles we've ever seen on TV.



Not surprisingly, the Internet is full of obsessive Piper-and-Alex shippers. But let's say that Alex is leaving the show, and that storyline is no more. There are still plenty of good reasons to watch Orange is the New Black.

And here they are:



This is not only an amazingly talented cast, it's a more diverse group of female characters than we've ever seen on TV. Piper is closest to the typical TV heroine, a quirky upper-middle-class white woman. The other women in the prison include a blue-collar meth addict, two generations of the same Latina family, an inner-city track star turned criminal, a transgendered woman caught in an illegal scheme, an immigrant mob wife, a nun imprisoned for her beliefs -- the kinds of women whose stories aren't usually told on television.

And boy, do they have stories. Every episode flashes back to an inmate's former life, before she was behind bars. Each one is a riveting blend of tragedy, comedy and romance. And there are at least a dozen women in the cast we still don't know anything about. That leaves a whole lot of material for the coming seasons. And showrunner Jenji Kohan, creator of Weeds, is up for the challenge.

So regardless of whether Prepon leaves, Orange is the New Black is worth watching. Still -- we'd rather she didn't leave. Not just yet. Okay, Laura?

Donna Kaufman is a freelance writer and iVillage contributor. Find her on Twitter and Google+

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