Almost 12 years ago, the world went crazy over a viral online video, which made it to the frontpages of all leading tabloids. In 2007, a clip showcasing a group of Asian prison inmates dancing to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ in full synchronization, became a global sensation. Documenting the real story of the prisoners in Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) in the Philippines is the Netflix Original, ‘Happy Jail’.
Created by Emmy winner filmmaker Michele Josue (‘Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine’), ‘Happy Jail’ marks her comeback to the world of entertainment after 2014.
Happy Jail Cast: Who is in it?
The stars of ‘Happy Jail’ are, of course, CPDRC’s inmates. Via first-hand interviews and discussions, the docu-series attempts to shed light on their emotional stories.
Happy Jail Plot: What is it about?
‘Happy Jail’ is primarily centered around the lives of convicts in Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), a jail that became famous after a viral dance number, that was performed by the inmates to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’. An important part of its storyline is also about an ex-convict, who is given the post of the manager in this Philippine prison.
CPDRC is a detention center that is known as one of the most notorious jails in the country. However, everything is not so grim within its walls. An inevitable part of the detainees’ exercise and rehabilitation drill involves dancing. The series attempts to narrate how these convicts progressed to become dancing sensations and the events that have happened since 2007. Additionally, it also delves deeper into the tales of the inmates, stories that are hidden behind the flashy dance moves and their endearing smiles. It is heartrending to hear about their lives, their struggles while being apart from family, their battle with justice, and hopes for a better future.
Yes, life might seem peaceful inside the walls of this institute but things change when an ex-convict is hired to run it. The concept of ‘Happy Jail’ starts as a simple prison-based documentary. But it takes a serious turn after the national elections of 2016. A new governor is selected and a former inmate, Marco Toral, is made the head and consultant of CPDRC. This leads to the institute being put under immense scrutiny. The decision also disrupts the system and creates friction among the management and the newly elected governor, Hilario Davide III. Across the episodes, we catch glimpses of Toral’s activities and his most questionable activities. We even get to witness the heated political conflicts between Gwen Garcia and Davide III.