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OITNB’s Original Plan For Taystee Would’ve Ruined The Character

The original plans for Taystee on Orange Is the New Black could have doomed the character before the end of season 1, let alone her future through the rest of the show. The Netflix Original series Orange Is the New Black is loosely based on the memoir of the same name by Piper Kerman, and Taystee’s book counterpart was nearly used as the basis for the character on the show. Due to the outstanding reception of actor Danielle Brooks’s performance in the Orange Is the New Black role, however, plans for Taystee were changed before her character could be ruined.

Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson is one of the inmates whom Orange Is the New Black protagonist Piper Chapman meets when she’s incarcerated at the fictional Litchfield Penitentiary. Taystee is played by Danielle Brooks, who was a newcomer to acting on television when cast for the first season. The outgoing character grew up in the foster care system because her parents were too young to raise her. The nickname Taystee was given to Tasha by Vee, her proverbial mother figure who groomed her into dealing drugs. Taystee ended up in juvie at the age of 16, and in adulthood, she was sent to the women’s prison. Her life-long experience jumping from one institution to another gives her a familiarity with being incarcerated that ends up influencing her to break her parole. The ending of Orange Is the New Black shows Taystee utilizing the Poussey Washington Fund to aid newly freed inmates, including herself and Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren so that they will never need to return to prison.

Kerman’s memoir, based on her own 13 months served in prison, paints an entirely different picture of who “Taystee” is. In the book, fully titled Orange Is the New Black: My Year In A Women’s Prison, the character’s name is Delicious, and the comment she makes about Piper’s “perky breasts” when she first meets her is the only true-to-life aspect of her televised counterpart. The showrunners originally planned on having Taystee appear for two Orange Is the New Black episodes total, and to keep the name as Delicious. Danielle Brooks’s dynamic character was intended to follow in the footsteps of Delicious and not play an integral role in the fictionalized Piper Chapman’s story. The scripts were quickly reworked, however, as Brooks’s lovable portrayal of Taystee developed the character in a way that made audiences eager to see where her rehabilitation would take her. Due to the showrunners changing their plans by making her a secondary protagonist, Taystee’s unique potential was not ruined.

How Taystee Became A Fan Favorite In OITNB
It is Danielle Brook’s lively and endearing portrayal of Taystee that first draws viewers in, but her backstory and release arc truly helped her become an Orange Is the New Black fan favorite. More than any other Litchfield inmate, Taystee represents a major chunk of incarcerated individuals who are trying their best to serve their time properly but get abused by the system regardless of their efforts. Her attempts to find honest work and escape an unbreakable cycle of returning to institutions make her incredibly sympathetic and characterize her far beyond the Delicious character in the real Piper Kerman’s Orange Is the New Black story. The creators of the show made a smart choice by giving Danielle Brooks more screen time. By developing Taystee beyond her one-dimensional yet peppy first impression, Brooks’s character became just as popular as Piper Chapman, if not more so.

Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson is one of the most heart-wrenching protagonists in Orange Is the New Black due to where her story is taken, even though the series ends on a bittersweet note. Danielle Brooks’s character became popular not only for Taystee’s contagiously vibrant personality but due to how well she portrays the relatability of an individual who is frequently failed by a broken system. Orange Is the New Black made the right decision changing plans that would include her in only two episodes of the show because Taystee developed into a refreshingly dynamic character entirely separate from her novelized variant.


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