A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Baby is a drama loosely based on a 2013 Italian scandal about young teens doing sex work. Not as explicit as its premise would make it seem, the drama contains no nudity or scenes of sex work. Characters do have sex, but it's teens having consensual sex with each other, with no body parts seen. Sex work is discussed in vague terms like when a man tells a girl there'd be no "obligations" with a client. A teen who took a sex video with a boyfriend is shamed by her schoolmates and called "slut," while the video is shown at a party to humiliate her. Many teens smoke cigarettes routinely, drink beer and alcohol, and smoke pot; one main character sells it to satisfy some gang types. An accidental death provides drama; we see the dead body with a bloody face. Teens also fight at a party and one gets pushed into a pool. Language includes "f--k," "f--king," "a--hole," "s--tty." Adult authority figures are largely absent, clueless, and/or actively predatory.
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What's the story?
Loosely inspired by a real-life underage sex work scandal, BABY focuses in on Chiara (Benedetta Porcaroli) and Ludovica (Alice Pagani), two privileged teens who both attend the same exclusive school in Rome. With parents who are distracted by their own personal lives, both have a lot of freedom -- maybe too much. When Ludo's impulsive forays into a nightclub uncovers an underworld with rich older men only too happy to empty their wallets to spend nights in the company of young women like them, the friends are drawn into places even more dangerous than the treacherous halls of their high school.
Is it any good?
Glossy, seamy, and yet less exploitative than viewers might assume upon hearing it's (loosely) based on a real-life underage sex work scandal, this drama is an odd yet interesting mix of genres. On the one hand, Baby's premise lends the production a major whiff of drive-in movie trash; on the other, that particular plotline is downplayed in favor of more generic teens-in-trouble materials: romantic complications, mean kids at school, parents who just don't understand. This tilts the drama more in the direction of teen soaps like Riverdale, Gossip Girl, or even fellow Netflix foreign-language privileged-kids potboiler Elite.
In fact, Chiara and Ludo are never even seen plying the trade that they're ever-so-slightly involved in. We see Ludo on one awkward dinner date with an older schlubby guy, and lots of scenes of the pair of them gyrating in brief outfits in clubs while skeevy older guys talk about the pile of money the teens will make them. Meanwhile, outside of the sex work angle, the trials and tribulations of this particular set of rich-and-beautiful teens is decently intriguing even if you've seen it before -- the show's Italian heritage lends it intriguing differences from its American cousins. Who are these Euro teens who smoke, club all night, and have parents who barely notice their existence, except to pass a croissant and espresso to at breakfast? Spending a few hours in their presence isn't earth-shaking, but it is interesting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether it's OK to show teen sex, drinking, and drug use on television. Do shows like Baby present a realistic view of teen life, or is anything exaggerated for entertainment? What would the real-life consequences of the characters' behavior be?
Aside from the original language this drama was filmed in, what sets this Italian series apart from their American counterparts? Why do you think some content (swearing, nudity, smoking) is more accepted in other countries?
This series touches on timely issues, including bullying, tolerance, and sexual activity. Depending on the episode's content, talk to your kids about these and other topics, drawing comparisons between the characters' actions and your own family rules. Did the show encourage you to see a situation differently than you have in the past? How does peer pressure play a role in your decisions about what you will and will not do?
For kids who love teen drama
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