The Huddle: Women in Prison


Women in prison is not a new trope by any means, but one that can be really, really good when it’s done well. Case in point: Orange is the New Black. Critics and viewers have been giving the Netflix series rave reviews, which makes this the perfect opportunity to discuss our favorite babes behind bars scenes from TV or film.

OK, ready? BREAK!

Elaine Atwell: As you’re all about to find out when I write my recaps, I think Wentworth is one of the most brilliant shows I’ve ever seen.  It’s a hell of a lot darker than Orange is the New Black, I think mostly because it’s set in a facility populated by violent, deeply scarred women.  The stories it tells, which are almost always about the  interactions between flawed individual psychologies and equally flawed institutions,  reach me on both a visceral and intellectual level. Plus, as my (straight) friend texted me after binge watching the entire first season, “Franky is the hottest character of all time.”


Punky Starshine: I can’t choose one scene, because in Wentworth, the power struggle between Franky and Erica where there should be no struggle (as their power positions are clearly defined) made for palpable sexual tension. And in Orange is the New Black, any time Piper and Alex were within 10 feet of each other (present-day AND flashbacks), their chemistry was so insane, it made my skin tingle. So I abstain from choosing!

Marcie Bianco: In “Fucksgiving” when Piper gets out of “the SHU,” marches straight to Alex, leads her to an empty room, and starts going at her like a beast. “The SHU” makes people give zero fucks!


Dorothy Snarker: My favorite women’s prison scene is whenever Alex takes off or puts on her glasses in Orange Is the New Black. All day, every day. I’d go to prison for that.

Kim Hoffman: Around the time I was in high school, a film came out that I remember seeing on television: A Stranger InsideI watched it every single time it was on a network, because I was more fascinated by the women and their twisted relationships than the prison plot itself. One girl actually makes her prison outfit look hot. (There’s sexy chapel-time moments.) The main character Treasure, who only gets in trouble and sent to prison for the sole purpose of tracking down her mom, Brownie, finds she’s now head mama of a prison family. Brownie even has “daughters” who feel they have a so-called safety with her, that is until everything hits the fan. This was an incredible raw story about the conditions in women’s prisons and the structure of their relationships with one another—sexual, romantic, homophobic, role-played, broken, trusting, distrusting, and so on. And—there are some buff scenes out on the yard/basketball court where you really see these women in action, and they make wearing jersey grey look bad-ass.


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