Back to IndieWire

The 15 Best LGBT Characters On Television: Suzanne Warren on ‘Orange is the New Black’

The 15 Best LGBT Characters On Television: Suzanne Warren on 'Orange is the New Black'

A fan favorite who’s capable of invoking as much laughter as she does pity, Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren is the way-out loner of Litchfield Penitentiary. She first marks her territory on the show’s narrative in Season 1 episode “Lesbian Request Denied,” where she falls hard for Piper and tries to win over her bisexual heart by way of a flimsy love poem. Suzanne stood up for her Dandelion when no one else did, but erratic and defensive in behavior, she is able to transform from bashful lover to mortal enemy like quicksilver. When Piper rejects her advances, at the snap of a finger and the emptying of a bladder, Suzanne is an antagonist. 

It’s tough to tell exactly where Suzanne’s loyalties lie, but although we’ve yet to discover what aspect of her violent history landed her behind bars, we’ve learned in flashbacks that she is perpetually the victim. A transracial adoptee who had no choice but to play with her younger sister’s friends given she didn’t have any of her own, Suzanne’s childhood as an outsider grew into a jail sentence with an identical status — after all, doesn’t Litchfield come across kind of like a clique-ridden high school? She eventually finds motherly solace in Vee, the manipulative kingpin of the second season, only to suffer abandonment again at her hasty departure. Our final glimpse of Suzanne in the finale, weeping over the deck of Uno cards Vee gave her as a gift, washes away all negative feelings that might have accumulated toward her throughout episodes previous. All she wanted was a friend.

“Crazy Eyes” was originally written as a bit part with only a handful of appearances in the first season, but Uzo Aduba’s read went over so well that the producers expanded the character significantly. As an essential fixture in the Netflix hit, Aduba’s much-loved performance garnered an Emmy for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, a 2015 Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Golden Globe nomination. While the ensemble of OITNB offers us a staggeringly diverse range of LGBT representation, it’s Suzanne who ticks triple boxes of intersectionality: black, queer, and mentally ill — misconstrued in the show as a rarity when you consider nearly 50 percent of incarcerated people in US federal prisons are black, and not much less of a number have been treated or diagnosed by a mental health professional. She stands alone as the most fragile, yet the ha-ha oddball of the bunch; a character as complex as the Shakespeare she recites. 

Watch a fan made clip of the “best of Crazy Eyes”:

This Article is related to: Television