Do you love Orange Is The New Black, but haven’t checked out Wentworth yet? Well, you have no idea what you’re missing. This too-gritty-for-tv Netflix series is dark and much more realistic.
Netflix Women’s Prison Series: Orange Is the New Black VS Wentworth
Like OITNB, Wentworth is also set in a women’s prison where the inmates and guards can be brutal, callous or caring in a system designed to strip each player of their humanity. Here are some of the key similarities and differences between the shows.
Both shows were released in 2013:
- Wentworth in May
- OITNB in July
While OITNB is inspired by Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name, Wentworth is entirely fictional. It’s a remake of Prisoner, a soap opera with low production values that took to Australian airwaves in 1979.
Both Wentworth and OITNB are centered on the lives of the women inmates. Yes, there are men on the fringes of the narrative, generally as:
- Prison guards
But the real story is about the prison women encompassing their hopes and desires, as well as the pressures that bear down on them.
Bright Orange VS Dark Black
OITNB can run you through the full spectrum of human emotions in one episode, provoking laughter as well as tears.
However, Wentworth is darker and doesn’t have the same element of comic relief.
This is partly because of Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson, whose feud with Bea Smith fuels much of Wentworth’s storyline.
While the characters of OITNB sometimes act savagely beyond belief, they’re all very human and relatable. Ferguson, however, is pure evil, a malicious killer simply because she wants to be.
Putting Ferguson aside, both series feature women whose mistakes, shortcomings and their ending up in prison are placed firmly in the context of their turbulent histories.
Through flashback,s which generally center on one inmate per episode, OITNB makes these histories impossible to ignore.
OITNB also boils down America’s racial divisions and white privilege to their essence. Even in prison, where no inmate is afforded human rights, some are way more equal than others.
Netflix Women’s Prison Series: Discussing Racial Divides Across the Country
Although the inmates in both dramas frequently torture each other, the prison is also the backdrop to profound relationships between the women, whether they:
- Fall in love
- Form intimate friendships
- Nurture mother daughter bonds
Actual mothers and daughters being in the same facility is also a plot theme that both OITNB and Wentworth have explored. They’ve also both also featured lesbian, gay and bisexual characters. And, both series have transgender inmates.
In both Wentworth and OITNB, we see the characters go through constant changes. They forgo their innocence and become their worst selves.
And, even after they’ve managed to climb up the rings of the prison hierarchy, these women prisoners can lose absolute control over what happens to them at any moment.
This reminds us that until they’re released, they’re entirely at the mercy of their circumstances.