Review: Australian prison drama ‘Wentworth’ a must-watch

Image courtesy Netflix

Drama, violence, love and a struggle for power are intertwined in the Australian drama “Wentworth.” Back in May, the series aired on Netflix with a new seventh season.

The drama deals with the challenges in the prison culture, specifically for women.

The series starts with a woman prisoner Bea Smith charged with the attempted murder of her husband. From there, viewers are introduced to several main characters: Franky, Liz, Boomer and Doreen. As the series goes on the characters encounter many challenges from other prisoners and even prison guard leadership.

The show does a good job sharing the crooked prison system.  Many of the women were sent to the prison on remand and not given a fair trial and granted lengthy sentences.

There are a few things that stand out the most. Like, how important the unwritten rules were to the prisoners. For example, if someone “lagged” (informed on someone) the women punished that person, even if that person thought tattling would protect them. The punishment usually led to some act of violence or even sometimes death.

There was also a fascinating power dynamic between the “top dog” and the prisoners. Often, a leader would emerge if that person had something the prisoners wanted, was socially liked, and had the protection, they would campaign to become “top dog.” Symbolically, the new leader handled the steam press during the workstation unit as a sign of their authority. What is interesting is that many of the “top dogs” throughout the show went out of their way to make the prisoners pleased, but if one mistake or request was not granted the women were quickly willing to overthrow the leader. It showed that aspiring to have any power or control in prison is unattainable because there was always someone else endlessly fighting for a sense of power in a powerless system.

Not to mention the governors and prison guards who were just as guilty, if not worse than some of the prisoners. They would exploit their authority for their personal, ulterior motives. Perhaps the difference between the guards and the prisoners is that one group got caught and the other did not.

Even with the bad, the show shares the good. Through this experience the women have developed strong bonds for one another, “Wentworth “is a must-watch, with plenty of drama, action and romance that audiences can relate to and enjoy.