Love behind bars in Wentworth: Franky and Bridget
Six years ago, Wentworth, a new TV series inspired by the old Prisoner Cell Block H, premiered on Australian TV. Although there is always a certain distrust when there is an attempt to redo a successful movie or series, Wentworth has surpassed all expectations. It has received several awards and has been sold to more than 90 countries. One of its greatest contribution in my opinion is that Wentworth has created one of the most remarkable love stories between women in TV history through the characters of Franky Doyle and Bridget Westfall.
What a team!
Wentworth, now in her seventh season, remains among the best drama series on TV nowadays. Unlike the stereotype of past narratives in female prisons, Wentworth features three-dimensional characters, very densely and brilliantly played by the cast in startling scenes very well developed by the writers of the series. Among these characters, it is impossible not to highlight especially three: the protagonist Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) who enters the gates of the prison for the first time accused of attempted murder of her husband; the controversial inmate Franky Doyle (Nicole Da Silva) involved in drug trafficking, and the enigmatic prison director (Pamela Rabe) called “The Freak” by the inmates, who has traces of psychopathy.
There comes Fridget
Leaving aside the controversy created at the end of the fourth season and later from the third episode of the sixth season (which I will not approach here to avoid greater spoilers for those who haven’t watch the series yet from the beginning), what I want to emphasize in this article is the love story between the inmate Franky Doyle and the forensic psychologist Bridget Westfall (a recurring character masterfully portrayed by Libby Tanner), which fans around the world have affectionately nicknamed as Fridget.
Against all odds
The relationship between Franky and Bridget begins when the new psychologist tries to help the inmate, who at first does not take her counseling seriously. But Bridget’s dedication and sincerity make Franky change her mind and the inmate starts seeing the psychologist as her strongest ally in an environment surrounded by death threats and violence. In turn, Bridget seems to see the great potential behind the aggressive personality of Franky and strives to redeem her. This is how the romantic involvement of the two of them begins, and from the day Franky leaves the prison on parole, they start enjoying many moments of almost true happiness.
A single slip, however, brings heavy black clouds to their relationship and Franky ends up returning to prison, to the despair of both. A new crime within the four walls of the prison further complicates Franky’s situation and the hope of a happy ending for the inmate and the psychologist becomes even more distant. Still barely seeing each other in prison, with no right whatsoever to any privacy, the couple starts to live the worst days of their lives.
The desperation caused by the situation leaves Franky nerve-racking to the point where she reaches the nonsense of assaulting sweet Bridget physically in her cell (and I must say, this scene broke my heart and shocked the viewers that were emotionally invested in their relationship). Franky’s obsession with running away and trying to prove his innocence further deteriorates her relationship with Bridget when she joins another inmate in order to plan her escape. The last straw to destabilize the once-centered psychologist occurs when Bridget is led to believe that Franky is getting romantically involved with Allie Novak (Kate Jenkinson).
Bridget hits rock bottom
The unbearable suffering brings back problems of the past and Bridget seeks refuge in drinking. Unrecognizable, to the point of going to work drunk, Bridget hits rock bottom. However, in a moment of sanity, she finally decides to end the relationship with Franky. Bridget resigns and unresented, she says goodbye to Franky, who, in shock, insists that he loves her, to no avail. After the departure of Bridget, Franky collapses and can only recover because she does not give up her intention to prove her innocence at any cost.
Is there hope?
In this incomplete description of the relationship of these two characters, I make mine the words of Franky herself, as she sees Bridget leaving Wentworth: “We’re not done!”. Yes, there is hope in the upcoming episodes for both women and for viewers of the series.
Self-respect and self-esteem
But there is something I still would like to emphasize. Most of us rightly criticize destructive relationships where one person only invests in it and tries to save the partner in whose qualities he or she believes blindly, despite the rude outside. There was a moment in their relationship that Bridget seemed to be fighting on her own. Experience shows us that very few people get the prowess of finally finding the diamond amid rough stones after countless attempts in their relationships. The boundary to this must be established by self-respect and self-esteem. No one who does not value himself or herself will be able to truly love someone else. If despite the abuses the person decides to keep going on, the relationship is clearly pathological.
Circumstances could have set them apart
Bridget proved her love for Franky in countless ways, but when she met her own boundary, she made the right decision, however painful it was for her. And it is interesting that she clearly felt relief when she made that decision. The self-respect she showed was what made Franky confront herself and wake up. Though they hadn’t stopped loving each other during the most critical moments, circumstances could definitely have set them apart. And it was facing the possibility of losing Bridget for good that Franky took into consideration the fact that no one in her life had loved her as much as she did.
A stronger and more genuine love
The realistic approach of a fictional romance leads us to think: are there possibilities of setbacks in a relationship? Of course, we aren’t perfect. But we must never allow that the love we feel for another person can obliterate us, to the point that we do not recognize ourselves anymore. All the difficulties faced by the couple Franky and Bridget, which culminated in the sixth season, have made the love between the two characters stronger and more genuine.
What a journey!
The relationship of Franky and Bridget has been a great journey that makes us want to be on board for more and more episodes, but this decision, unfortunately, is not for the audience to make. We can only hope to count on the good sense of the producers and the willingness of the writers to continue presenting us with more moments of this beautiful love story between two women that has in fact already become unforgettable in TV history.
* Wentworth is a production of FremantleMedia Australia, currently availabe on Fox/Showcase (https://www.foxshowcase.com.au/shows/wentworth/).