A decade ago, when an online video went viral, it was frontpage news. Now, with YouTube being big business and new viral content coming daily, the original viral sensations seem almost quaint. But believe me, back in 2007, the video of a group of Asian prison inmates dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was a global sensation. And now, 12 years after the viral video, Netflix tells the real story behind the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in “Happy Jail.”
As seen in the trailer for the five-part docu-series, “Happy Jail” takes a look at the aforementioned detention center in the Philippines and sheds light on how these inmates became huge dancing sensations a decade ago and what has happened in the years since. It would appear that the title is far from misleading, and as jails go, CPDRC is actually pretty damn peaceful and, uh, happy. But that peace is seemingly threatened by the hiring of a former inmate, who now runs CPDRC.
“Happy Jail” comes from filmmaker Michele Josue, who is probably best known for the Emmy-winning doc “Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine” back in 2014. This would be her first work since that documentary.
“Happy Jail” arrives on Netflix on August 14.
Here’s the synopsis:
This five-part docu-series goes inside the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), a unique Philippine jail where dancing is part of the inmates’ exercise and rehabilitation. CPDRC shot to worldwide fame when its 2007 performance of “Thriller” went viral, but ten years later it faces intense scrutiny when an ex-convict is hired to run it. Happy Jail is directed by Emmy Award winner Michele Josue (Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine).
Here’s the original video that went viral a decade ago: