Emmy Episode Analysis: Taylor Schilling (‘Orange is the New Black’) plays chicken with Emmys

This year, Taylor Schilling from “Orange is the New Black” broke into the Best Comedy Actress race for playing new inmate Piper Chapman. Let’s break down her episode submission “The Chickening” to see if she can pull off the ultimate Emmy heist.

Taylor Schilling (‘Orange is the New Black’) on Emmys and ‘gray area’ between comedy and drama [Exclusive Video]

SYNOPSIS: The episode begins with Chapman waking up, looking around her jail cell, getting a cup of tea and taking it outside to read a book. She then looks up and sees a chicken. In her next scene, she starts talking with some of the other inmates about how beautiful it is outside in autumn and that she saw a chicken. The inmates are surprised and tell her to go talk to Red.

As Red (Kate Mulgrew) questions her about the chicken, Chapman remains adamant that she saw one, and then she proceeds to be told about the legend of the chicken that went missing years ago. Red believes it is out there and offers a reward to the inmate who can bag it and thanks Chapman for bringing her the information. Chapman then meets her fiance and best friend, who gives her some bad news about an important client in their business. Chapman hatches a plan to get on the phone with the client to smooth things over before mistakenly telling her fiance that her ex-girlfriend Alex (Laura Prepon) is also a prison inmate.

See full list of Emmy episode submissions here

In her next scene, she is sitting as one of the officers reprimands the prisoners for breaking the chapel roof and orders them to clean it. Chapman asks for some dust masks. Later she is doing a yoga class when an AA meeting comes in with Alex. When her ex starts talking about their break-up, Chapman rolls up her yoga mat and storms out. Later, Chapman is informed that a rumor about something valuable being in the chicken has led to everyone searching for it. Red gets mad at her for talking too much about it and disappointing her. Chapman then gives a short speech that inspires her to not give up hope, saying that determination is “what catches chickens.” This causes Red to run and get it.

Chapman meets with her supervisor, who tells her she isn’t going to get in trouble but that it’s impossible to get a chicken into the prison. He advises her to stop stirring up excitement. Dejected, she returns to her cell, only to be greeted by angry inmates. She is then on the phone with her fiance, where she apologizes and vents her anger about prison life. We see her on the phone again on the business call, but when she sees the chicken, she drops the phone to chase after the chicken. The episode ends with her seeing the chicken on the other side of the prison fence.

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Can Schilling take home her first Emmy for this role for “The Chickening”? Let’s consider the pros and cons:


“Orange is the New Black” scored 12 nominations this year, leading all comedy series. It’s a new show and its second season is fresh in voters’ minds. If there is a lot of love for the series amongst the academy, it will bode well for Schilling.

She has submitted a lighter episode of the series to voters which will help her with members who don’t like rewarding darker dramatic stuff in the laffer races. She also has the longest episode of all the nominees, and size sometimes matters at the Emmys

In the past nine years in this category, the Emmy has gone to someone in their first season on siz occasions. They like new blood in this category, which could be an asset for Schilling.


As an actress from a more dramatic show, Schilling can’t meet the laughs of the gals from the half-hour sitcoms.

Her episode shows some nice range but it’s largely reactionary. She has that nice speech to Red, but it may not pack a big enough punch and there are no other money scenes to speak of.

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Schilling is currently in second place in our predictions with 13/2 odds. Can Schilling score an Emmy on her very first try? Make your own predictions below.

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