From the stony ground up: The unique affordances of the gaol as “hub” for transgressive female representations in women-in-prison dramas

Stayci Taylor, Tessa Dwyer, Radha O’Meara, Craig Batty

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

Abstract

One of the major considerations in creating a premise for an enduring television series is choosing what is variously termed the “hub” or “precinct.” Focusing primarily on the television series Wentworth (2013-) and its antecedent, Prisoner (Cell Block H) (1979-1986), this chapter looks to practices of screenwriting, script editing and serial drama development through the lenses of television studies and genre theory, to suggest that the unique appeal of women-in-prison series is broader than a general fascination with life on the inside. We argue that the prison-as-hub more broadly does much of the work of facilitating the internal logic of the interconnected lives and storylines of the characters. We contextualize these ideas within a broader investigation into how the prison hub functions within script development processes and suggest that this is a more productive conceptualization of the “hub” than the more common “world-building.” These factors pave the way for the greenlighting of a female-centered series, with transformative possibilities. We aim to also draw conclusions around the wider function of the female hub as a catalyst for industry change, especially at the level of series commissions. By focusing on gender in relation to script development processes, we hope to augment and deepen concurrent discourses on gender and representation, particularly in the television series.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Incarceration in Popular Culture
EditorsMarcus Harmes, Michelle Harmes, Barbara Harmes
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages671-684
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9783030360597
ISBN (Print)9783030360580
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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