Department of Radio, Television, and Film, University of Texas
Television dramas and comedies set in prison have a reasonably venerable history. Shows have included the classic British comedy Porridge (1973-1978), the Australian soap Prisoner (1979-1986), the American cable drama Oz (1997-2003), and the British soap-drama Bad Girls (1999-2006). This year there has been an Australian remake of Prisoner called Wentworth (2013) and the Netflix comedy/drama Orange Is the New Black (2013).
This column will address how homosexuality has been represented in these programs. Prison shows were among the first to represent gay people and there has been a remarkable continuity of queer characters over a relatively long period of time in a single genre. This has not been the case in any other TV genre. I argue that the representation of queerness in prison shows falls into three time periods, which are indicative of society’s changing attitude to homosexuality...