Although no release date has been revealed for the final season of “Orange Is the New Black,” Netflix has found one way to fill the gaping hole left by one of its flagship series: A reality show set inside a women’s prison. Following in the footsteps of A&E’s “60 Days In” and MSNBC’s “Lockup,” “Jailbirds” takes viewers inside the lives and loves of the inmates at the Sacramento County Jail. The series is produced by 44 Blue Productions, the documentary series production company behind the highly successful “Lockup” and its various franchise subsidiaries. This is Netflix’s first foray into the prison reality show genre.
Per the official synopsis: “Love, hate, betrayal — the drama never ends for both first-time and veteran inmates trying to survive behind bars. At the Sacramento County Jail, incarcerated women fight the power and one another as they try to make the best of life — and love — on the inside.”
While the county jail is a co-ed facility, the only subjects interviewed in the trailer are women. What’s more, this first look at “Jailbirds” really plays up the “Orange is the New Black” connection by promising plenty of romance — especially of the sapphic persuasion. The friendships are plentiful, and one storyline even follows a lesbian couple getting married. “Yeah, there’s regulations…but there’s so many relationships,” one inmate says. Another shot shows a man introducing himself to a woman through a pipe inserted in the toilet.
“Jailbirds” also promises plenty of altercations and confrontation. The trailer includes interview subjects saying things like “if you snitch, you’re gonna meet my fist,” and “something’s gonna pop off,” before cutting to footage of a gnarly mess hall brawl. All of these scenes are scored with a guitar-heavy soundtrack intended to make the proceedings appear very rock and roll, much like early promotions for “Orange Is the New Black” did.
Time will tell if “Jailbirds” receives the same scrutiny as “Orange” did for romanticizing incarceration and ignoring the larger systemic issues of the prison industrial complex.
The “Lockup” franchise has been very fruitful for 44 Blue, spawning such offshoots as “Lockup: Raw,” “Lockup: World Tour,” “Lockup: Extended Stay,” “Lockup: Disturbing the Peace,” “Lockup: Special Investigation,” and “Life After Lockup.” The series and its various iterations have been airing on MSNBC since 2005.
Check out the trailer for “Jailbirds” below.