“The Baby” review: This kid is a freak. No, literally.

The adult – that is, the real – star of the show is Michelle de Swarte, a British model, comedian and reality TV performer (“I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! Now !”) . She plays 38-year-old Natasha, who is first seen having fun when a friend’s baby interferes with her poker rituals. Natasha has issues with babies, which stem in part from her desire to live her life as she sees fit and in part, we learn, from her own relationship with her mother. One of the series’ many jokes is that Natasha, willful and latently heroic, is just as immature as the baby she finds herself caring for.

This baby literally falls from the sky and into Natasha’s arms, just after the death of one adult and just before the death of several others, the central joke being that people who come into contact with the nameless and insufferably cute baby have tends to meet horrible ends – except for Natasha, the one who doesn’t want him but can’t get rid of him. When she tells her friends and family members that the baby is not hers, they ignore her. the baby can apparently convince them that he has always been there.

As Natasha seeks to offload herself, first trying to leave the baby in a police station and, when that doesn’t work, moving on to more devious and violent solutions, the series consistently scores points on realities and truisms. of motherhood. Even though Natasha doesn’t want the baby, he immediately dominates her life and drives her to alienate her friends exactly the way they alienated her. That he also appears to be a serial killer – an actual monster – is just a tiny step closer. A mystery woman who has been following the baby’s bloody progress tells Natasha, “He’s going to raze your life, destroy your relationships, and when he’s got you completely, he’ll destroy you.” That’s what he does. It sounds good.

As well as being a dark, satirical comedy, “The Baby” is, as the genre and needs of episodic drama demand, a mystery as well. This side of the show, with Natasha reflecting on the life of the woman who was responsible for the baby just before her, is flippantly fun. But in another genre-defining move – think of it as “Get Out” syndrome – the show takes an unfortunate turn at a certain point, when it feels the need to take the themes it’s deftly honed and tweak them. make it explicit and literal grinders. It involves long flashbacks to less enlightened times, and it can be seen as an extension of the show’s perspective into a more serious story about women’s control over their bodies. But that goes against everything that made the show appealing.

I won’t spoil putting the changes in place, though I should mention that HBO has made six of the eight episodes available for review. Things can therefore change. And regardless, there’s delight in Swarte’s portrayal of the tenacious and tireless Natasha and in newcomer Amber Grappy’s sweetly confused performance as Natasha’s younger sister. And there is the baby. No matter what else happens, it kills.

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