The series revolves around Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a bisexual woman living in New York City who is sentenced to 15 months in a women's federal prison (operated by the Federal Department of Corrections, a fictionalized version of the Federal Bureau of Prisons), for transporting a suitcase full of drug money to her former girlfriend Alex Vause (Laura Prepon) who is an international drug smuggler/mule. The offense occurred ten years prior to the start of the series, and in that time Piper had moved on to a quiet, law-abiding life among New York's upper middle class. In prison, Piper is reunited with Alex (who may have named Piper in her trial resulting in her arrest), and they re-examine their relationship and deal with their fellow prisoners.
In July 2011, it was announced that Lionsgate Television and Netflix were negotiating adding Orange Is the New Black, based on Piper Kerman's memoir, to the Netflix original series lineup. Netflix finalized the deal as a 13-episode straight-to-Web series. Casting announcements began in August 2012, with Taylor Schilling the first to be cast, in the lead role as Piper Chapman, followed by Jason Biggs as Piper's fiancé Larry Bloom.
The series is set in a fictional prison in Litchfield, New York, which is a real town in upstate New York, but it does not have a Federal Penitentiary. The series began filming in the old Rockland Children's Psychiatric Center in Rockland County, New York on March 7, 2013.
On June 27, 2013, Netflix renewed the show for a second season. On May 5, 2014, Laura Prepon stated that the series had been renewed for a third season. The list of names for the first episode of the Season 3 premiere has been posted, including the title "It's the Great Blumpkin, Charlie Brown!"
Orange Is the New Black has received critical acclaim. For Season 1, Metacritic gave it a score of 79/100 based on reviews from 32 critics, indicating favorable reviews.Rotten Tomatoes gives a score of 93%, with an average rating of 8.2/10 based on 40 reviews. The site's consensus is "Orange Is the New Black is a sharp mix of black humor and dramatic heft, with interesting characters and an intriguing flashback structure."
Hank Stuever, television critic for The Washington Post, gave Orange Is the New Black a perfect score. In his review of the series, he stated: "In Jenji Kohan's magnificent and thoroughly engrossing new series, Orange Is the New Black, prison is still the pits. But it is also filled with the entire range of human emotion and stories, all of which are brought vividly to life in a world where a stick of gum could ignite either a romance or a death threat." Maureen Ryan, of The Huffington Post, wrote: "Orange is one of the best new programs of the year, and the six episodes I've seen have left me hungry to see more."
The second season of the show was also received with critical acclaim. Rotten Tomatoes gives a score of 97%, with an average rating of 9.1/10 based on 35 reviews. Metacritic gave the second season a score of 89 out of 100 based on 30 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". David Wiegland of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the season a positive review, calling the first six episodes "not only as great as the first season, but arguably better."