Laura Prepon is leaving Orange Is the New Black. Or she's not. Or she's sort of leaving. It's strangely unclear.
Reports have been swirling this week that everyone's favorite lesbian drug dealer may be leaving Netflix's hit prison dramedy Orange Is the New Black, but no one has been able to parse exactly what's happening. The general consensus seems to be that we're not yet bidding a complete farewell to Prepon's wise-cracking Alex Vause, but that a big goodbye could be coming down the road. Prepon told Vulture that she is "of course" coming back, explaining that any uncertainty is "just scheduling. It's all scheduling, girl." Though, as a Vulture "editor's note" preceding the Q&A explains, the interview was conducted before the reports about her uncertain future were published.
The mystery of Prepon's employment status started Wednesday, when BuzzFeed's Kate Aurthur reported a story with the headline "Laura Prepon Is Leaving 'Orange Is The New Black' (For Now, At Least)." Aurthur explained that Prepon will not "be a series regular in Season 2." Aurthur explained that Prepon "will come back for a limited number of episodes in the show’s 13-episode second season in order to resolve her story. And the door will be left often for her to return in the future. But the actress did not sign a contract tying her to the show for the upcoming season." The Hollywood Reporter's Lesley Goldberg followed up Aurthur's report with an added statement from Netflix, which said "our season is still developing and nothing is confirmed." Goldberg noted: "It remains unclear whether Prepon's exit was her decision or a creative direction from executive producer Jenji Kohan."
Yesterday Vulture's Denise Martin presented us with four potential outcomes for this oddly intricate mystery: 1) Prepon could be leaving for real. 2) This could be an elaborate "negotiation tactic" 3) Her character will leave the prison and then come back 4) Her character will be killed. All potentially plausible scenarios. In our opinion, that the status of Prepon's future has been so oddly talked around and even dodged — for heaven's sake, she's a supporting character on a Netflix show, not Charlie Sheen — seems to indicate one of two things. Either there's a big spoiler-y revelation about her character coming up (she dies, is transferred, freed, etc.) that a concrete casting announcement would reveal too much about, or there are some ongoing off-camera difficulties, probably business related but possibly "creative differences," that everyone would like to resolve quietly.
But let's come back to the question of scheduling, which Prepon herself raised. With season two already filming, it's unclear what professional commitments would stand in the way of Prepon's participation in a seemingly popular, critically beloved series. While IMDb lists no upcoming projects, Prepon mentions in Greco's interview that she is "directing my first feature this year," a Garden State-like movie based on her mother. Could that be what's (maybe) keeping her away? Is she actually being kept away at all? We don't know! Though all this chatter has at least been proof of the show's popularity. Maybe that's the real reason for all the intrigue.