Original Title: Baby
English Title: Baby
Should a guy who’s almost 40 be watching teen dramas? How dirty will you feel when said teen drama involves underage sex work? Do Italians really say, “Mama mia!”? All of these are legitimate questions one could ask before watching Netflix’s Baby and I cannot promise you’ll get all the answers after watching it.
What it is:
Baby is an Italian TV show developed for Netflix that is set at and around an elite private high school in Rome. The story centers on two girls, Chiara and Ludo, and their decent into some of the more unsavory parts of high society. Chiara is the girl that has it all together on the outside but is ready to burst inside and Ludo the child of divorce who is seen as the school outcast. The two become friends and set out down a dark path together that eventually leads to them getting involved in sex work and the shady characters that surround it.
What’s to like?
Drama! So much drama. Like any good teen soap, there’s lots of sex, secrets, lies, and violence, all in mostly appropriate combinations. Of course, the trip into the world of underage sex work takes Baby into territory that most other similar probably wouldn’t go (I’m assuming this, I really haven’t watched enough Western teen shows to know that for a fact). The core of the show is the friendship between Chiara and Ludo and how it grows from classmates who barely speak to best friends who take incredibly dark and dangerous risks together.
Along for the ride with Ludo and Chiara is the all the characters you’d expect to find in a good teen soap opera, there’s a gay best friend, a bad boy from the wrong side of The Coliseum, a sexy teacher who yearns for adventure and the requisite cast of snobby jerks who consistently do snobby and jerky things to the characters we like. Of course, all of the actors playing the parts are exceedingly beautiful and fashionable, fulfilling the requirements of Italian cinema and teen dramas at the same time.
What’s Not to Like?
The subject matter can pretty intense at times. It would understandable if some people didn’t want to venture too far down the path of underage prostitution. The show is very enjoyable when you’re just watching teenagers do the normal dumb stuff that teenagers do, but watching Ludo and Chiara get dragged into a world that is so dark, and deal with things that could have lasting and devastating consequences takes some fortitude.
It’s worth noting two things about this, first, the storyline is inspired by a real scandal that rocked Italy in 2014, and also that there’s much more to the show than just prostitution, the relationships and how the girl’s choices affect them are the main focus.
It seems pretty universal that rich kids at an expensive private school are assholes, that what makes these shows worth watching. However, that means there’s not too much to glean about Italian culture from what goes down in the school, Outside of the school there are some interesting insights in the family and social structures that the characters inhabit.
Other than that, one very cool thing about Baby is seeing people actually living in Rome. Rome is one of those places that is very easy to think of as a just tourist destination full of museums and ancient ruins, so it’s cool to here to see it as a place where people work, go to school, and live their beautiful Italian lives. Of course, because the show is about an exclusive private school we mostly get to see only the working and living of the rich and powerful and it would be nice to see some of the seedier parts of Rome, but maybe that’s saved for a later season.
Finally, yes, you do get the joy of hearing actual Italians exclaim, “Mama Mia!” which the subtitles strangely translate as, “Oh my god!”
Why not? The first season is only six episodes and they’re all very watchable. What’s better than watching beautiful young people doing the wrong things? If teen dramas aren’t your thing, then this probably isn’t for you, but if you like 90210 (I really should be able to come up with a more recent reference than that. I know) and other shows of its ilk then Baby is right up your alley.
Subs & Dubs
It can be watched either in Italian with the subtitles of your choice, or with English voice dubbing from the 30 seconds I sampled was pretty rough.
How to watch:
It’s on Netflix. You’re watching Netflix right now. Get to work.