Aside from the premise, Kohan says the show and its characters should be considered works of fiction. But in addition to the ample amount of research Kohan and her team did on prison life, Kerman reads every script and frequently weighs in.
"Most of her comments are technical: 'This wouldn't happen,' 'This would be against the rules,'" Kohan said. "She's been extremely respectful of our taking her story and then veering left with it and taking it in its own direction."
Early critical reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it "incredibly impressive," The New Yorker calling it "smart, salty, and outrageous," and IndieWire hailing it as Netflix's best series so far. The company is so confident in the show that it has already announced a second season.
Unlike other Netflix showrunners, Kohan says the potential for binge-watching – a hallmark of Netflix's entire-season-all-at-once release strategy – didn't change the way she approached the show.
"I think people should watch however they want. It's their experience and they should choose how to have it," she said.
"Orange Is the New Black" premieres on Netflix Thursday, July 11 at 12:01 PDT.