In the battle of women's-prison TV shows, I'm leaning heavily towards Wentworth, an Australian TV series that began in 2013. I used to watch Orange is the New Black but last year's season lost me and my interest in Piper and the gang waned. If something can "wane hard", that's what happened.
What is it about Wentworth? There's a grittier more realistic tone to what these women are dealing with in prison, whether the drama unfolds over romantic relationships or who's "top dog" or shifty guards. The writing's tight dialogue also weaves wonderfully through the series, while I always felt OITNB's dialogue felt "filmic".
Opting for Wentworth over the American series could be a matter of taste. I felt the humour from OITNB to be forced, while the sly jokes in Wentworth hit homes precisely because they fit seamlessly in the relationships between the many characters I've grown to care about over five years.
My love of prison dramas began with HBO's Oz back in the day, and later fuelled by films such as The Shawshank Redemption. Something about this intense universe where the allegiances and vengeance sidle behind almost every cellblock has always ratcheted up the tension to a point I can't look away.
So where do you stand on prison TV shows? Feel free to comment or chat with me on Twitter via @SilverbergDave.
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