Inside Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Unexpected Crossover With Orange Is the New Black

Executive producer Robert Carlock explains how the sneaky cameo came about

By Chris Harnick May 22, 2017 4:00 PMTags
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3, Orange Is The New BlackNetflix

The Marvel superhero shows on Netflix aren't the only TV series to have a shared universe. While many assumed 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt are connected thanks to the inclusion of Mikey (Mike Carlsen), the construction worked, it is in fact Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Orange Is the New Black that are connected. Sort of.

In the fifth episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Gretchen (Lauren Adams) is sent to prison after a standoff with police and her cult of teen boys. It's not just any prison, it's Litchfield.

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"There were sort of two possibilities for the end of that story: Gretchen dies or she goes to prison. And the first didn't like a possibility and the second seemed like actually kind of maybe great for Gretchen. She needs some rehabilitation and some alone time. And maybe that could also be a place where people listen to her, she needs more women in her life and fewer men," Robert Carlock, co-creator of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, told E! News.

And Carlock said it was his co-creator Tina Fey who joked, "Could [Orange Is the New Black's prison] be it?"

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"We said, ‘Well, sure. They shoot around here, right? It can't be that too far away.' It turned out that place was too far away to actually go shoot…We emailed [OITNB creator] Jenji Kohan and she said, ‘Sure, you can pretend she's going to my prison.' And then we emailed her again and said, ‘Hey, could Black Cindy [Adrienne C. Moore] be the person she's talking to,' and she said, ‘OK.'"

Kohan had "one little tweak in the dialogue" to make it clear that Black Cindy was not in prison for stabbing her boss at Sea World because "that would have pulled at some threads, but [Kohan] allowed us to have worked at Sea World and stabbed someone," Carlock explained. "I think it was very generous for her to let us do to her characters."

But any footage you don't see Gretchen in while at the prison is from the first episode of Orange Is the New Black when Piper (Taylor Schilling) arrives there. "They let us buy footage off of them," Carlock joked.

"I was not there for the shooting of that and I was like, ‘How? Are they going to go?' It's so funny…It's so great," Ellie Kemper told us. "The show is so weird in that kind of great way."

A weird gag that might not go anywhere.

"I don't know what's next for that…She'll probably have to get transferred, but we want to continue to tell Gretchen's story, her own kind of rehabilitation and opening to the world to undergo…Prison's going to be good for Gretchen," he said.

Translation? Don't expect to see Gretchen on Orange Is the New Black…for now.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is now streaming on Netflix.

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