As an easily entertained American female, I will binge anything on Netflix that catches my interest, and I'm not immune to the allure of a good drama. I loved OITNB the second it started and the cast was phenomenal. I waited a year in between each season and binged the newest season in a day just because I loved it. I have no issues with the first few seasons, but then I saw a few episodes of Wentworth; it was just too nice and easy to digest compared to Wentworth. Each bit of drama and plot leading on felt just too typical and unreal in the typical Hollywood fashion in Orange Is the New Black. Even most of the appearances in the show are too pretty for prison. I would bet that 90 percent of women in prisons in the US do not care about their appearances as much as this show would make you believe.
The characters are very well developed and interwoven in lovely ways. Like Daya and her mother being in the same prison; yes, I could see things like that happening. Adoptive moms, dozens of insane women, and even an ex-Amish girl make appearances and add to character diversity. I can see predatory lesbians like Boo being real... but this portrayal was too pretty for the deaths and violence that they tried to show. I personally love a lot of these actors, but I feel like this show dimmed down certain aspects that really should have been highlighted from the creator's time in a women's minimum security facility. And then the Black Lives Matter ideals were brought into the last few seasons, even though she was in prison and wrote her book well before that became a huge thing... so it was put in the show why?
Wentworth, on the other hand, opens with our main character, Bea Smith, elbow deep in the shit, and by that I mean tripping over the Governor as her husband turns the corner so EVERYONE thinks she murdered Meg. Murder, drugs, and bashings like no other, all revealed in time and shocks galore. Wentworth is grittier, harder, and more gruesome than OITNB. Wentworth is an Australian show that is a loose re-imagination of the 1969-1976 Prisoner (Cell Block H), which I have seen clips of on Youtube. Now the clips and episodes of Prisoner were so controversial for the time, and now this amazing show with many characters with same or similar named is pushing the boundaries for a prison drama today. Yes, there is racism (kind of), blackmail, extortion, but it works in this show without a ridiculous business selling dirty panties anywhere in the story.
Bea, Doreen, Liz, Vera a.k.a. Vinegar Tits, and The Freak were characters in the original Prisoner story. I love Wentworth for its cast and realness. If you watch one of these let it be Wentworth, even if only for the fact it is far less focused on the sexual exploits of prisoners but moreso the day-to-day lives.
So many things go wrong for Bea Smith in her time at Wentworth, including her encounter with a crime family, top dogs abusing power, drugs, being forced to do so much only to survive and help other inmates survive too, and it still isn't enough. The screws can help and hurt you all at the same time, but do not press the panic buttons... no matter what. Follow the rules and don't borrow anyone's stuff without asking, but if Boomer asks for something, just give it to her. Laggers get it worse than anyone else, just ask Liz. Also, try not to catch a dose of Hep C from Juicy Lucy. But Bea makes friends and somehow gets through so much. By the end of the five seasons on Netflix, you will be asking yourself how on earth one person can do all this and still find love in prison.