Orange Is the New Black consistently finds ways to make us empathize with unexpected characters, but there are a few that continue to polarize. Alex Vause, most notably, has divided the fandom in two: those who love the four-eyed vixen and those who loathe her with equal fervor.
"I think one of thing that's so great about this show is that all the characters are flawed. Nobody's perfect. And there's something for everyone to relate to," Laura Prepon tells TVGuide.com. "But with Alex in particular she's this strong independent woman and yeah, she tends to look out for herself sometimes, but she also has these moments of vulnerability and truthfulness because she really does love Piper [Taylor Schilling]."
But even the most dedicated fans had to question Alex's character this season after she flipped on Piper and cut a deal. However, Prepon defends Alex's decision, saying the betrayal was as much Piper's fault as it was Alex's. "I think a lot of her actions are justified and in Season 2. She did think that Piper was going to tell the truth. Just sayin'," Prepon says.
While Prepon's explanation might not be entirely redemptive, it's a whole lot easier to forgive Alex than it is Larry, the other corner in Piper's dysfunctional love triangle. "I've defended Larry a lot and I will continue to do so. I just think all of his actions have been born out of him trying to protect himself and just kind of survive, given the circumstances," Jason Biggs insists.
As the actor sees it, Larry was not only hurt by the fact his fiancée had an affair while in prison, but hurt by the fact Piper was even locked up to begin with. "He's trying to make the best of a really horrible situation. And mind you, he never committed a crime as well. That's the other thing people forget," Biggs says. "Everyone sympathizes with Piper, as they should ... But Larry hasn't done anything wrong, right?"
That is, unless you consider sleeping with your ex-fiancee's married best friend wrong (which most people do). Biggs does admit that Larry dating Polly wasn't exactly the best move, but he can't help but empathize with the character. "The more he gets hurt, the more he tries to protect himself and the more he acts out," Biggs says. "And I think him hooking up with Polly is a version of protecting himself, but it's also a fu-- you to Piper. It's vengeful, I believe. He's just being selfish. But it begs the question, is he allowed being selfish?"
The fandom apparently believes the answer to this question is a resounding, "no," as evidenced by the constantly evolving vitriol towards Larry on the OITNB Wiki site. But Biggs doesn't mind the haters, noting he's just happy his character was able to make such an impression. "I knew it wasn't going to be well received among the fandom of the show, but that's kind of what's exciting for me about this whole thing and experience of playing Larry," Biggs says. "The other thing that I love is that people have no qualms about writing to me telling me how much they hate Larry and how much they love Alex. And I'm like, 'thank you, I guess ... you could just write Laura with this."
"The fans are very into the show and they're very supportive and behind the show and very vocal, which is great," Prepon adds. "I've never had a fanbase like this, in terms of someone who's so into the show. It's wonderful. I love it."
But while fans continue to debate the merits of Team Alex vs. Team Larry (though, is anyone actually Team Larry, anymore?), there is one mystery the show has yet to solve: Why does either character love Piper so much in the first place? She's as terrible a person as they are!
"For Larry, it's that she has a really nice vagina," Biggs says.
"For Alex, too," seconds Prepon.
"It's something that we haven't really explored properly, but I think in Season 3 we talk really about Piper's vagina and just how beautiful it is," Biggs says, before getting serious. "I think for Larry, she's exciting ... I think that exciting side that Alex brings out in Piper, Larry certainly doesn't have. And Larry's attracted to that in Piper."
For Prepon, the attraction lies in the couple's constantly shifting power dynamics. "In the beginning, Alex was definitely manipulating her more, making her a drug mule and using sex to manipulate her," Prepon says. "But then they end up falling in love and the game changes for Alex. And then Piper does these things that are really manipulative and messed up. Then, in Season 2, there was definitely a shift and already in Season 3 there's another shift. So there's this constant thing that keeps changing. That's why they're so interesting. "