From critically acclaimed films like “The Green Mile” and “The Shawshank Redemption”, to television shows like “Prison Break”, we have no shortage in content focused on men in prison.
When the first season of “Orange is The New Black” (OITNB) came out on Netflix in 2013, I was absolutely thrilled to see what a “women in prison” show was going to be like. I soon came to fall in love with it, and binge watch each new season the weekend it came out.
Just two months ago I had a friend tell me about a show called “Wentworth”. I got curious and found it was on Netflix as well. The show is basically the Australian version of OITNB, but a lot more serious and a lot more real. Both shows explore life in a women’s prison and the life of women in general.
OITNB is full of laughs, which kept me, and I’m sure others, watching, but “Wentworth” finds its humor in the darkness, which is a more realistic portrayal of true prison life.
“Wentworth” has suspense, cliffhangers, and a musical score which compliments the dark scenes inside the prison walls.
I think I could handle being locked up in Litchfield (the prison in OITNB), Wentworth looks terrifying. In both prisons you have to deal with drugs, disease and prison shanks, but Wentworth puts both of those things prominently in the story line of the show, making it far more intense. (It also has a lot more squatting and coughing).
They both have similar characters, the top dogs, the scary prison warden/guards, the lesbian, the male-to-female trans character, and the pregnant one. Both shows develop these characters into people you truly care about, and are well representative to struggles within those communities, but there is more of a closeness you get with the characters in “Wentworth”, which is unlike OITNB.
In many ways, Bea and Piper (the main characters) are not so different, though. They’re both women out of their element, gentle by nature. Neither woman wants to rock the boat, but both are possessed by a streak of moral righteousness that gets them in trouble and gains them respect.
“Wentworth” also explores the lives of the prison guards a lot more, and connects the outside world to the prison in more ways than just in flashbacks. Even though Piper is granted a furlough in one episode and gets to experience her grandmother’s funeral and brother’s surprise wedding, Bea escapes prison and ends up murdering a guy.
I couldn’t pick one I like better than the other, they’re both fantastic in their own ways. If you’re not okay with gun shots to the head, you should probably stick with OITNB, but if you need real, intense drama to keep you interested, go with “Wentworth”. While it might take the average American a minute to pick up some of the Australian slang, it’s definitely worth the effort.
The fourth season of “Wentworth” premiered May 10, and episodes are easily accessible each week with a simple Google search. OITNB’s fourth season will be released on Netflix on June 17.
Reach this writer at 937-538-4825.
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