While Orange Is the New Black is a deftly written and widely beloved show, as some former prisoners have suggested, it’s not an 100% accurate representation of life inside the penitentiary system. Next month, however, Netflix will provide an in-depth look at a real American prison with the launch of its documentary series Jailbirds.
Produced by 44 Blue Productions (the same team that brought you A&E’s Nightwatch and MSNBC’s Lockup), Jailbirds documents the lives of prisoners at the Sacramento County Jail, which houses more than 2,400 male and female inmates (though only about 10% of the inmates are women). The trailer makes it clear that Jailbirds isn’t nearly as lighthearted as OITNB: the inmates are locked up on a wide range of charges, from assault with a deadly weapon to murder, and the clip features footage of vicious brawls between prisoners. “Being here in jail, it’ll break you,” one inmate says. Yet it also shows how inmates make the best of their dire circumstances, forging close friendships with other inmates and even finding love with other prisoners by communicating through the toilet. “We might be locked up physically, but mentally and emotionally, I’m rolling,” one prisoner cheerfully says.
Jailbirds debuts on Netflix May 10.