For U.S. fans of Bad Girls, the wait is over. After a summer-long hiatus, the third of eight seasons of the hit British prison drama begins airing on Logo (AfterEllen.com’s parent company) tonight at 10 p.m. ET.
Fans who already watched the show’s first two seasons know why tonight’s episode is so important. A dizzying array of Season 2 cliffhangers left us aching for answers: Will Helen turn Nikki in? Will she give in to Nikki’s reckless passion and join her at the corner of Haight and Ashbury? Will Shell take the plunge (so to speak)? Will Bodybag recover her dignity and Di her sanity?
That’s plenty of motivation for the show’s loyal fans, but those who’ve never seen the show may still wonder what all the fuss is about. Why should you tune into a half-decade-old prison show with actors you’ve never heard of, sporting accents you can barely understand?
Especially for those Bad Girls virgins (and as a reminder for the rest of us), here then is a handy rundown of 10 reasons to watch Season 3 of Bad Girls.
Warning: Light Spoilers
I think we know what straight male writers and producers might do with the Nikki and Helen story line:
Realizing the folly of her lesbian dalliances, Helen succumbs to the sexual tension between her and evil prison guard Jim Fenner.
Suddenly and with no foreshadowing, Nikki becomes a crazed stalker. Also, possibly a vampire.
Nikki hangs herself when she discovers Helen’s pregnant.
The more interesting — and too rarely answered — question is What Would Lesbians Do? How might they handle the culmination of the first of several lesbian romances, a love story they placed front and center for nearly 40 episodes?
Season 3 of Bad Girls gives us a chance to find out. We discover what a team of creators and a talented pair of lead writers — all lesbians — would do with an ample budget, two engaging actresses and three full seasons to tell a classic love story. It is, simply, must-see television.
9. Loads of Fun — and Politics Too
Writing about the upcoming musical version of Bad Girls, Kath Gotts, the composer and lyricist (and co-creator Maureen Chadwick’s partner) said, “The marketing will tell you that it’s loads of fun — and it is — but it’s also an indictment of our penal system.”
Fun and an indictment — there’s a pairing you don’t see every day. That dichotomy pretty much sums up the underlying complexity of the small-screen version of Bad Girls, which slides with ease from silliness to serious drama and social commentary.
In Season 3, the show depicts sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace, and the woefully inadequate treatment of prisoners with psychological issues. The struggles of a 16-year-old inmate who cuts herself and a Nigerian inmate who doesn’t speak English are particularly revealing. And yet the season is, as usual, also filled with more than its share of lighter moments and gallows humor.
Chadwick told AfterEllen.com that female viewers have been particularly adept at understanding the complexities the show presents. “One of the interesting things that has emerged, really, is how it seems that women are generally better at emotionally multitasking and don’t have a problem with a show that is simultaneously — and sometimes within the same scene — both serious and funny.”