If you’re not watching Wentworth on Netflix, you’re making the biggest mistake of your life. (If you voted for Trump, the second biggest mistake.)
Wentworth has it all. I thought it ended after the third season, so I’ve been binging to catch up. Watching three episodes in a row is like living in another dimension. It can be hard to readjust to life outside the Australian women’s prison where the series takes place. It’s emotionally exhausting but irresistibly addictive.
Wentworth’s villain is a monumental figure whose match is rarely seen on TV. Governor Ferguson, played by Pamela Rabe, runs the prison like a sadistic Big Nurse, scheming against the women with a vindictive malice than knows no bounds.
She is a fucking psychopath, and at six feet tall, she literally looms over the prisoners like a giant Nazi. I wish someone would agree with me that she looks like Alec Baldwin! The likeness gives me an extra frisson of pleasure whenever she purses her lips or sneers.
Ferguson’s opponent is Bea Smith, whose arc takes her from frightened middle class mom to Mad Max as she earns the position of Wentworth’s “Top Dog.” An earlier Top Dog who Bea must defeat is Jacs, a coarse mobster who looks like Martha Stewart gone bad. Jacs is truly terrifying. I had to cover my eyes constantly when Jacs was around.
Bea’s rival is a boyish lesbian called Franky, who has an enormous lovesick enforcer, Boomer. There is tons of grisly violence that everyone usually forgives as part of the territory.
The Australian accents are an added joy: Debbie is Dibby, and sex is six. Not that there is any six; the seductions here are more visceral and psychological.
Wentworth’s characters are cartoonish, but the actors are so brilliant and committed that they transcend cliches. No one is afraid to be repulsive or grotesque. And once you’re past season two, they’re your family.
Here’s a great scene between Ferguson and her lieutenant, Vera, that might be a spoiler, so beware. If you’re already a fan, please share your favorite Wentworth moments!