Orange Is The New Black’s Big Red: ‘Netflix And Chill? Why Would You Have Sex When You’re Watcing My Show?!’

Actresses Kate Mulgrew (Big Red) and Selenis Leyva (Mendoza) fill us in on what to expect from season 4 (spoiler free)

Orange Is The New Black's Big Red: 'Netflix And Chill? Why Would You Have Sex When You're Watcing My Show?!'

by Jess Commons |
Published on

TV's most important show is back.

Orange is the New Black, the boundary-breaking, heart-shattering, soul-lifting programme that's changed the face of entertainment as we know it, returns to Netflix this week.

After an exceptionally dark season one and two, followed by a lighter season three, season four makes a return to the hard-hitting claustrophobic mood of it's debut. Not that it's little on the laughs though. Writer Jenji Kohan manages to inject humour into even the darkest of places.

If you'll remember, season three ended (spoiler if you haven't watched season three, although we'd recommend going to do that rather than reading this) with most of the inmates escaped, splashing around in the lake beyond the gates. Sophia was serving time in isolation in the SHU for 'her own protection', Soso had joined Poussey and her gang after a failed suicide attempt, Black Cindy officially became Jewish, Piper got Stella in the shit for stealing her panty money, Alex was attacked by one of her old boss's hitmen, celebrity chef Judy King arrived at Litchfield and, just as everything descended into chaos, so did several busloads of new inmates.

Bascially, there's plenty to work with when it comes to season four.


Two characters that have remained constant in the show from the beginning are Big Red, the Russian mafioso, 'mom' to many of the white inmates and head of Litchfield's kitchen and Gloria Mendoza, Red's Latina counterpart and kitchen boss rival. Neither are to be messed with.

IRL, the actresses that play them, Kate Mulgrew and Selenis Leyva are rather more approachable. Kate has a nice cardigan and groomed blonde 'do when we meet, whilst Selenis looks ace in a sleek black dress. Do they miss dressing up nicely when they're on set though? Do they hell.

'It's fantastic!' Says Kate of the prison scrubs she spends most of her time in. Selenis agrees. 'If I was going into season five of a show where I had to be perfect all the time, that would be exhausting. I love the fact I'm free to be really comfortable. You have no idea. Except for the shoes.' The big black work boots the cast all wear except Red (she prefers Crocs) are apparently very heavy after a long day tramping around the set.

When we met them, Selenis and Kate had only seen epsiode one of the new series. For those of you planning to dive right in, let us say this - don't expect the relatively light-hearted ride of season three. Stuff goes down right away. In a manner that surprised even the actors. 'Even from the first epsiode I was stunned by the immediacy of the drama, the immediacy of the darkness,' Says Kate. 'So I can only imagine what the viewers feel.'

'We all know what's coming.' Warns Selenis. ' We all know how dark it's going to get...'

The most upsetting storyline to come out of the last series was the banishment of transgender Sophia (Laverne Cox) to the SHU after hate crime inspired by a feud with Mendoza that spirals out of control. Selenis, who has a transgender sister herself, was anxious that the story ended up coming across in a manner she was happy with. 'It was important to me to make sure that was done the way it ended up. It was beautiful to watch. The development of these characters continues to be really important. Not only to me, to Jenji (Kohan, the writer), to the LGBT community, to everyone involved.'

Selenis found the scenes in this particular storyline the most difficult she's had to do. 'I said things and I had to go to places that I fight every day for people not to go. But I had to go there because you have to get ugly to start conversations. That scene in the bathroom with Sophia was very hard to do. It was exhausting. I went home and I had a good cry and Laverne and I reached out to each other. I said, "Are you OK?" And we talked about it. That's what happens when you care about the people you work with. On this job we really take care of each other.'

It's clear the women have nothing but the utmost respect for everyone involved in the show. From creator and writer Jenji Kohan, 'She has her hand on the pulse, she sensitises you. She opens up your compassion. And sometimes she shoots you in the head.' To Taryn Manning (Pennsatucky), 'Absolutely fantastic,' to Dale Soules (Frieda) 'There's an actress for you. She brings it. Every time.' To Adrienne Moore (Black Cindy), 'She's spot on in very difficult stuff. She's equally funny and dextrous and poignant.' No-one is passed over.

Piper, the show's catalytical character has proved tough to love over the past few seasons but Kate says she's 'essential'. 'Taylor Schilling plays her like a dream. The actress and character are getting criticised for all the wrong reasons. You try and do what she has to do. She has to walk the line. She has to be equally funny and sad and proud and stupid and everything. She has to be all of those thing, all the time. She's a fine actress, she really is.'

So is there any character Selenis and Kate actually *want *to leave? 'You'll have to wait and see,' Says Selenis. 'Once you finish this season, then you'll know exactly who we want to leave. And it's not just one person. Just surrender and wait and it will surprise you...' She says cryptically.

'Just binge!' Says Kate. 'Binge while you surrender! Netflix and chill! Do you guys have that? I just learned that. I don't do any social media. I don't even know hashtags. Is it hashtag chill?'

'Hashtag Netflix and chill,' laughs Selenis.

'It means let's have sex!' Kate continues. 'I said to everybody "Why would you have sex when you're watching my show??"" She looks at us questioningly, in mock bewliderment. 'Oh, you're not answering. You're part of it!'

Netflix and chill? Sure. Netflix and chill in front of Orange is the New Black?


Orange Is The New Black Season 4 launches on Netflix from June 17. Catch up on Season 1-3 now.

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Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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