Although Bad Girls probably wouldn’t have lasted eight seasons on ITV in Great Britain had it appealed only to lesbians, the prison drama’s strong same-sex story lines were doubtless what got the attention of Logo, the U.S. cable channel “for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender audience.” From the very first episode, “Them and Us,” the heroine of G-Wing is semi-butch Nikki Wade (Mandana Jones), half jailhouse advocate litigating at the top of her lungs and half Simone Weil suffering the world’s wounds. But any hope of improving prison conditions depends on her relations with new warden Helen Stewart (Simone Lahbib). At the other pole of the inmate power grid is Shell Dockley (Debra Stephenson, right), the blonde-bombshell kitchen witch who trades sexual favors with screws like Jim Fenner (Jack Ellis) when she isn’t setting someone’s hair on fire. In between are brutal guards like Sylvia Hollamby (Helen Fraser), born victims like Rachel Hicks (Joanne Froggatt), the two Julies (think Rosencrantz and Guildenstern), penal politics, a death-by-miscarriage, and a fashion show that’s Cabaret-outrageous. Don’t imagine you are tuning in to The L Word behind bars. Bad Girls is much better than that—it has a rough Oz edge and some of the feminist wit of Jonathan Demme’s Caged Heat.
Logo, premieres Thursday, February 1, 10 P.M.