Which came first: Wentworth or Orange Is the New Black?

Orange Is the New Black may have premiered before Wentworth, but it is the former that has been plagued with allegations of copying Wentworth.


It is common for series with similar premises to have fans compare the two in terms of which one is better. This was the case when it came to the female prison-based series, Orange Is the New Black and Wentworth, with both premiering in 2013.

Both series garnered international acclaim because of their availability on Netflix. Being hosted on Netflix, Wentworth was exposed to an international market considering that the series is Australian and Orange Is the New Black is American that premiered a month before Wentworth.

However, despite this, it is Orange Is the New Black that has faced claims of copying Wentworth.

How different are the premises of Wentworth and Orange Is the New Black?

The premises of Wentworth and Orange Is the New Black read differently.

According to IMDB, Orange Is the New Black’s premise is, “Convicted of a decade old crime of transporting drug money to an ex-girlfriend, normally law-abiding Piper Chapman is sentenced to a year and a half behind bars to face the reality of how life-changing prison can really be.”

On the other hand, Wentworth’s premise is, “The confronting look into the lives of the inmates and prison staff of Wentworth Correctional Centre as they navigate the ups and downs of their lives in the prison system.”

Both series have an ensemble cast, but are told through the perspective of a protagonist that rises up in the ranks. In Wentworth, this character is Bea, and in Orange Is the New Black, it is Piper.

Which came first, Wentworth or Orange Is the New Black?

Orange Is the Black was the first of the two series to air. The American series premiered on Netflix on Thursday, 11 July 2013.

Wentworth’s premiere followed just over a month later, on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 on Fox Showcase’s Foxtel. Wentworth was then introduced on Netflix in December 2014.

It is possibly the fact that Netflix made the series available on its platform that really sparked the conversations of comparison between the two similar series.

Unfortunately, despite Orange Is the New Black being the first to premiere between the two, Wentworth’s fans and cast members still accused the American series of copying some of its storylines.

Below are some of the most topical accusations that Wentworth’s fans and some of its cast members made against the American series.

Celia Ireland calls out Orange Is the New Black

Between 2013 and 2019, Celia Ireland played the character of Liz Birdsworth in Wentworth.

The star suggested that the American series may have been somewhat inspired by her character’s battle with early onset dementia, because in Orange Is the New Black, a season after Liz got dementia, the character Red experienced the same thing.

Ireland teased her insinuations, stating, “It’s very interesting, because that storyline for my character was on air very early last year, very early in season six Liz is diagnosed with early onset dementia.”

Adding, “Who knows if there’s a little bit of copycatting going on, but it’s a very interesting storyline.”

Ruby Rose as Orange Is the New Black’s Stella Carlin

In 2015, Australian actress, Ruby Rose, was introduced as a cast member on Orange Is the New Black who played an American inmate, Stella Carlin.

Fans of Wentworth noted that this seemed like another copycat move by the American series, because Wentworth’s similarly portrayed Nicole da Silva, in the sexy, brunette, tattooed lesbian role, Franky Doyle, was garnering international acclaim for her role, which was arguably subsequently overshadowed by the acclaim Rose received for her portrayal of Stella Carlin.

Reddit users shares all the common similarities

In light of the growing debate at the time of both series’ natural initial broadcasts, one Reddit user suggested that the biggest difference between the two series was their tones.

Sharing the similarities, the user noted that both series featured a famous person being imprisoned, the main characters for each series were both initially presented as being weak, but grew stronger with time.

They both also featured transgender characters, and mother and daughter storylines that slightly differed.

But the biggest similarity that the Reddit user noted was that both shows had a pregnant inmate, with their personalities being somewhat indistinguishable.

Final thoughts

Orange Is the New Black concluded with a total of seven seasons in 2019 with an overall IMDb rating of 8.1 out of 10.

Wentworth holds the record as the longest-running of the two series as it concluded its television run in 2021, following a nine-season run with an IMDb rating of 8.6 out of 10.  The rating and comparison suggests that fans preferred Wentworth when all was said and done.

This is despite the fact that Orange Is the New Black was the first to premiere between the two. Still, it was the American series that was plagued with allegations of copying the narrative plots of Wentworth.