Are you eager for season 3 of “Orange is the New Black?” Spend some time with “Wentworth” on Netflix while you’re waiting. It’s a darker, grittier show than “Orange,” by way of Australia, and based on a TV series, “Prisoner,” from the early 1980s. You’ll find the characters to be less over the top, but equally, if not more, intense and realistic. Ultimately, this Australian TV series emerges as the more believable of the two, but that’s not intended as a dig against “Orange,” which is also a fine show.

Bea Smith, convincingly portrayed by Danielle Cormack, has been remanded to prison, presumably awaiting a trial and sentencing, for the attempted murder of her husband. Looking like a deer in the headlights, she immediately finds herself dealing with gangs and rivalries within the prison walls and forced into difficult choices as she tries to navigate her way.

wentworth TVseries on Netflix

Franky, Jacs, and Bea

There are two leaders among the women at Wentworth: Franky (Nicole da Silva), a young lesbian with a constant smirk who is tough and brash, and Jacs (Kris McQuade), the older, possibly wiser, seemingly more ruthless inmate, who waits for the right moments to make her moves. It doesn’t take Bea long to get caught between them.

In each early episode we learn more about the background of one of the prisoners. Through flashbacks, we see the events that cause them to land in jail. Each of the women is humanized as we find out their backstory; they become more than the facade they present to fellow inmates and the guards. While they all made choices, many are victims of bad circumstances, abusive families and bad luck.

“Wentworth” will draw you in quickly. Events happen in the first episode that lead us to believe Bea may be there awhile. We also get to know the administrative side of the prison. There is almost as much drama and competition between the governor (warden), staff, and guards as there is among the inmates. As the series progresses, we discover the staff each have their own issues, and there may be fewer differences between them and the prisoners than one would think.

“Wentworth” first aired in Australia in 2013 with a second season following in 2014. It has been renewed for a third season scheduled for 2015. The first season has 10 episodes of about 45 minutes each. There are twelve episodes in season 2. Put it on your Netflix TV shows list, and look for “Wentworth” season 3 on Netflix later in 2015.

“Wentworth” Season 1 Trailer