From the Land Down Under, which brought us the amazingly awesome Underbelly franchise, comes Wentworth or Wentworth Prison, which is an adaptation of the 80’s television series, Prisoner: Cellblock H. The series stars Danielle Cormack, Underbelly: Razor, as Bea Smith. Bea is arrested and taken to prison, after attempting to kill her abusive husband. While things seem bad, they continue to grow worse. She is quickly pushed around by Franky Doyle, Nicole da Silva. Franky has built a reputation, as one of the prison’s major players.
At the time of Bea’s arrival, Franky’s main rival, Jacs Holt (Kris McQuade), is currently in the hole. Once Jacs is released from solitary, things quickly go sour. The prison’s governor, Meg Jackson, ends up being murdered and the battle between Jacs and Franky intensifies. From there, things begin to spiral out of control. Internal prison conflicts turn into external prison clashes, as Bea’s daughter, Debbie Smith (Georgia Flood), gets involved with Jacs’ son and things go from bad to worse. There are a lot of intense moments throughout the first series.
While these are the three main players, there are also many interesting side characters including Matthew Flecther (Aaron Jeffery), Will Jackson (Robbie Magasiva), Vera Bennet (Kate Atkinson) and Liz Birdsworth (Celia Ireland). As the prisoners work out their differences, the guards deal with their own inner struggles. For instance, Vera is forced to confront her overwhelming, controlling mother for a change at a normal romance with Flecther, who is fighting his PTSD. Everybody in the show is fighting something, whether it is someone or a personal struggle.
With each of the ten episodes, the show begins to explore each of the character’s individual backgrounds and why exactly they’re in prison. At times, the show is funny. Other times, it is sad and depressing. At the end of the day, the series is totally awesome and definitely worth watching.
The first few episodes were a little slow, but built up the story adequately. As the series continues, the show begins to build suspense, excitement, depression and even a little romance. While watching the first season, there were very few characters that I didn’t care about. Each one is interesting in their own way, even Kim Chang (Ra Chapman), who had very few lines. Around the forth or five episode, the series really hits its peak and doesn’t hold back.
A lot of people might want to compare Wentworth to Orange is the New Black. While they’re similar in a sense, they’re also very different. OITNB is a comedy with a comfy setting, when compared to Wentworth Prison, which is gritty, violent and a little frightening at times. The acting is top-notch and each of the characters carry their own weight. I cannot wait to watch Wentworth Season 2, which is available now. Overall, I would give Wentworth Season 1 a high 9 out of 10.