Netflix’s Jailbirds New Orleans (2021) Review: A Sad Attempt at Reality-TV

Jailbirds New Orleans is a newly released reality series set in the prison cells of New Orleans. The show is divided into 3 episodes, each just a little over the forty-minute mark. This makes the total watch time come down to just below two hours.

Easily something you could finish in one sitting, but the question is would you want to? The mini web series is a part of the larger instalments of reality TV that would focus on the jailed women of Sacramento. The show has garnered quite a controversy online, with Netflix claiming to offer an up-close and ‘scandalous’ view of these women. How ethical is it to film people in an obviously orchestrated portrayal of their lives? Let’s find out:

Trailer for Jailbirds New Orleans

Reality TV has always been questionable, but filming incarcerated women in jail as a means of entertainment makes this not just a question about trashy TV, but about just how ethical it is in the first place. Netflix shoots detained women as they talk to their friends, and go about their daily lives in prison, and only achieves to make some sort of a “scandalous” spectacle out of them.

Netflix describes the show as:

Feuds, flirtations and toilet talk go down among the incarcerated women at the Orleans Justice Center in New Orleans on this gritty reality series.

Via the Netflix Official Site.

– Jailbirds New Orleans review does not contain any spoilers –

Jailbirds New Orleans is, to say the very least, trivial in the very way it deals with life in prison. It focuses on the much smaller problems with how prison systems work in most countries. The lack of comforts like packet food or makeup becomes central, as does what the women get up to in their free time.

A still from Jailbirds New Orleans as the jailed women play the classic sleepover game of 'Never Have I Ever'.
A still from Jailbirds New Orleans as the jailed women play the classic sleepover game of ‘Never Have I Ever’.

The ‘grit’ Netflix promised? Yeah, that’s entirely missing.

Shows like Orange Is the New Black cover all these aspects. Even though they aren’t ‘reality’ TV, they seem more steeped in reality, than the new Netflix show is.

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Jailbirds New Orleans 1
A still from Jailbirds New Orleans where the women use their toilet seats as phones.

The show tries to give a wholesome approach to the lives of these women in captivity by focusing on some of the more “fun” parts of their life, like the friendships, bathroom chats, the weird prison hacks, all the while not realizing that these hacks shouldn’t be needed in the first place. Prison systems around the world (with the exception of a few) are designed to punish rather than redeem, and a show like this tries to dilute that sentiment, but ironically, only draws it out further.

It makes prison seem much easier than it really is. What’s really ironic is how reality TV like this is not so realistic in the first place.

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Final Verdict: Jailbirds New Orleans

Jailbirds New Orleans 2
A still from Jailbirds New Orleans as they socialize among themselves.

Question: What was Netflix thinking?

Don’t get me wrong. Making a reality docuseries about life in prison could be eye-opening and subsequently, very important. But Jailbirds New Orleans makes prison life seem like a 24/7 dorm party, which it, of course, isn’t.

A sad attempt, and a sadder outcome. I personally wouldn’t recommend it, even if it is a short watch.

Jailbirds New Orleans is now streaming on Netflix.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Overall Score

SUMMARY

Jailbirds New Orleans is reality TV set in prison. Confused? We were too. Read on to find out what we make of it.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Spoken like an 18 year old kid who’s never even seen central booking much less a jail cell. Stick to your cat socks. 🙄🙄🙄

  2. Really think you got this review wrong. I think doc series like this, help us humanize those incarcerated, and if you had any idea of addiction it’s not fun anywhere especially prison.

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