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TigerBlog is about halfway through Season 4 of "Wentworth" on Netflix.
The show is the Australian version of "Orange Is The New Black." Actually, it's way better than "Orange Is The New Black."
TigerBlog isn't sure that "Orange Is The New Black" knows exactly what it is trying to be. Is it funny? Serious? The mix doesn't always work.
"Wentworth" has no illusions of being a comedy. It is exactly what a prison drama should be, with its sense of the fear, frustration, boredom, loneliness and helplessness that the inmates live with everyday. And with a constant reminder of why these women are in prison in the first place.
It's a tough trick, to make sympathetic characters out of people who are criminals and in prison. If you look at "The Sopranos," for instance, it's easy to forget that Tony, one of the most lovable characters in TV history, is actually a sociopath and mob boss.
In Wentworth's prison, the line blurs between "good" and "bad." Yes, Bea - the leader among the prisoners - tried to kill her husband and did actually kill someone else, but she does have the best interest of the other inmates in mind. And she is painted as a person who never set out to hurt anyone but was forced into circumstances that led her down this path.
Yes, there are some inmates who have absolutely no sense of right and wrong and were destined to end up where they are. Then there are the rest, who, like Bea, made bad choices along the way and now are dealing with the awful consequences while trying to let their "good" side win out over their "bad" side.
The dynamic of the relationship between the prisoners and the guards is also portrayed well. There is a hint of friendship between them, coupled with a constant need on the part of the guards to remind the inmates of the reality of their situation, which is that the guards can go home when their shifts are over but they'll be here for years or, in Bea's case, forever.
The best character on the show is Frankie, who was paroled at the end of Season 3 and who hasn't figured prominently in the first half of Season 4. Frankie is something of a hybrid between the two kinds of inmates - she has a big heart and is a bit of a psycho who thinks nothing of lashing out (in a big way, like a "throwing a pan of hot oil on someone on live TV" sort of way).
TigerBlog senses that there will be more of Frankie in the second half of the season. He hopes it's not because she's sent back to the prison, though.
And then there's Ferguson, the former governor of the prison who is now an inmate. That part is a bit contrived, but it doesn't take away from just how evil a character Ferguson is.
TigerBlog figures that her character is so evil that the other actors on the show must hate her in real life too.
If you have seen "Orange Is The New Black," which is basically everyone with Netflix, but haven't seen "Wentworth," which is also basically everyone with Netflix, then you've been watching the wrong show.
"Wentworth" is a big hit in Australia, and it has won numerous awards there. In fact, the actresses who play Bea, Frankie and Ferguson have all won Best Actress in a drama awards, which has to be unique among any show in any country.
And now, for the easiest segue in TigerBlog history:
While we're on the subject of Australia, it will be Canada vs. Australia in women's soccer as the Summer Olympics begin today, actually two days before the Opening Ceremonies.
Canada features Princeton grad Diana Matheson, who four years ago in London scored the biggest goal in Canadian women's soccer history, when she gave her country the bronze medal with the goal in stoppage time of a 1-0 win over France in a game in which Canada was outshot 28-4.
The biggest goal came from the shortest player, as Matheson barely reaches five feet tall. It also came from the fittest player. TigerBlog has seen very few athletes who have ever come through Princeton who had Matheson's motor.
Or, for that matter, field vision. It's how she's managed to be a huge part of Canada's international women's soccer efforts for more than a decade now. In fact, Matheson, now 32, could be playing in her final major event for the Canadians.
It's been 12 years since she exploded onto the Princeton Athletics scene and helped Princeton to one of the greatest accomplishments in its entire athletic history. Back in 2004, Matheson was the glue of a women's soccer team that went all the way to the NCAA Final Four, and those Tigers remain the only women's soccer team in Ivy League history ever to do so.
Matheson was named a first-team All-America, which is a bit ironic. You know. Because she's Canadian.
Her team has a tough group, with Australia and Germany, though the Canadians could still come in third in the group and reach the quarterfinals. The fourth team in the group is Zimbabwe.
The Olympics begin today with Diana Matheson.
Against Australia. Which produces a great TV show.
Sigh. All segues should be that easy.