'OITNB's Real Larry on Jason Biggs, Twitter Hate, & Why More People Should Be on His Side
There are a few things nearly all Orange is the New Black fans can agree on: Everyone loves Taystee; Vee was absolutely terrifying; and Larry is just the worst. Even before the character played by Jason Biggs cheated on Piper with her best friend (!), he was whining about her prison sentence, tattling to the New York Times, and, perhaps worst of all, watching Mad Men by himself after promising Piper he'd wait. For a show that can be pretty divisive (Piper: annoying or well-meaning? Bennett: sweet or a pushover?), practically everyone is in agreement that Larry Bloom is pretty much the worst person ever. Everyone, that is, except Larry Smith, the real-life inspiration for the show's most-hated character, at least at the beginning. In an interview with Bustle, Smith, a writer/editor, reveals that despite what OITNB viewers may have assumed, Larry Bloom does have at least one true fan in his corner.
"There’s a misunderstanding of Larry Bloom," Smith begins. "Larry is funny. Larry is there for Piper. Larry sticks by her. People don’t seem to be so upset that Piper cheated on Larry in prison but they freak out when Larry cheats on Piper. Just take a step back, OK?"
If he seems defensive, that's because he needs to be. While Biggs may get most of the flack for Larry's TV actions, Smith is no stranger to the Internet insult. His Twitter handle is the frequent recipient of comments like "you're a jerk" and "fuck you, Larry," and even offline, he's dealt with a number of people who don't seem to quite understand that the publisher of a literary magazine has little to do with the character they hate so much.
"Once in a while, there’s an acquaintance of ours, and they’ll be like, 'Piper, you’re so brave to stay with Larry after all that happened,'" Smith says. "And she’s like, 'I’m not sure if you understand, but this is an adaptation. Not everything in this show happened in real life. In fact, most of it didn’t.'"
"It doesn't happen much," Smith continues, "but we just have a good laugh over it."
To an extent, he understands viewers' disappointment (if not their confusion over reality vs. TV).
"Listen, some of this guy’s rap is deservedly bad, but sometimes I think it’s a little over the top," Smith says. "He isn’t the badass that Piper is, but he’s a solid dude. He gets rattled, and he’s lonely, and he does this things with Polly, and no one can defend that — but I do think that he becomes the villain for a lot of people. ... I don’t defend everything Larry Bloom does, but I think the Larry hate is a bit much."
Smith theorizes that most of the dislike for the character is inevitable, however.
"The women inside the prison are the center of the show. People are sympathetic, they identify with them," he says. "They are the celebration and centerpiece of the show, right? So Larry Bloom, he’s on the outside, he’s free, he comes from a privileged family ... so right there, he’s a less empathetic character."
Still, Smith can't help but wish the show would be a little bit kinder to Larry, even if it's just every once in a while.
"Look, even though he's not me, he is loosely based on me," Smith says. "Who doesn't want that guy to be the hero?"
For him, watching Orange is no different from how any other viewer would watch the show — wishing that Larry would get his act together, if only so that his time on screen wouldn't bother OITNB fans — and Smith's friends — as much as it currently does.
"Curtis [Sittenfeld, Prep author and friend of Smith's] just sent me a funny note," the writer says. "She said, 'I just want you to know, this is very gratifying for me and I hope for you, that every time I talk to someone about the show I say I've known Larry Smith the journalist for 10 years. He’s an awesome journalist!' And I said 'Curtis, you have no idea how much I do appreciate that. Get out there, defend my name!'"
Sittenfeld's not alone in her mission; in a piece he wrote for Medium, Smith recalls how a friend's teenage girl texted him to say that he's "so much cooler than that guy."
"It’s cool when like a teenage girl is like, 'Dude, I’m defending you to my friends,'" he jokes.
But for those viewers who haven't gotten wind of Smith's defense team, the writer has a plan: the Larry spin-off, an idea that he and Jason Biggs, during a conversation, joked would be "amazing."
"That’s what I’m talking about," Smith says now, laughing. "The Larry spinoff. They could do it, you know! You got to keep it in the family."
Images: Abigail Pope; Netflix (3)