Little by little, the horror genre has been losing space in theaters. That is true, but at the same time, it has found new life in today’s thriving streaming ecosystem. Horror films are cheap to make; you only need a great atmosphere to scare people, and thankfully, that is a lot cheaper than creating a whole new world with magical creatures and superpowers. Comedies have also had a hard time at the theater, so it only makes sense for both of these genres to find their way to streaming, in a combination that would make Sam Raimi proud.
The Baby is the new TV show by HBO Max, in collaboration with Sky, that will show you just how terrifying it can be to have a baby that you don’t want. Parenthood is a very complex topic. Some people are made for it, some others learn to love it on the way, and some others will never come to like it. There are even some out there that have it and don’t want it, and those who have it but don’t deserve it. So complex and yet so close to each one of us, as society is basically built on top of the ways we teach our younger ones and the love that we give them, or the lack of it.
The Baby is trying, in the way of a miniseries, to approach this topic, focusing on a very specific type of demographic. That one is about a lesbian person trying to have a baby for themselves. So, this horror, comedy, and drama goes straight to the bite, but it might have bitten more than it can chew.
The Baby is created by Siân Robins-Grace and Lucy Gaymer. It tells the story of Natasha, a 38-year-old woman who sees how time is escaping her when each of her friends starts having babies and gets ready to focus their lives on them. Natasha, on the other hand, couldn’t think less of being a mother, but destiny has other things in mind when a baby drops in her arms. But there is a catch. Natasha’s new baby might not be what it seems at first glance. The baby might be evil.
The show wants to do a lot of things at the same time. First, it wants to be a character study, in which it tries to present Natasha as a self-sufficient woman who really has no needs other than being able to share with the people she loves. However, she has flaws just like anyone else, and this strange situation might just be the push she needs to become a better person.
Through Natasha, we see how many types of women face motherhood and all the obstacles and challenges that come with it. Some mothers look for support in each other and create groups, others just suffer alone; while others just give up in front of the great mission they have on their hands.
The episodes’ runtime is generally half an hour. This might not be enough time to develop all these elements in the proper way. For example, halfway through the season, the motherhood theme is then given another layer when the focus begins to center specifically on the LBGT+ community. The show makes it clear how hard it is for them to try to become parents in the face of a society that sees them as something wrong. The premise is fantastic and interesting, but the execution is lacking.
The show is very female-centric and there is barely a male voice in the whole cast of actors, and the male perspective on the matter comes off only as one of the villains, the enemy. At least in the first six episodes, this is the case. It is a sad take on the matter, and maybe it would have been cool to recognize that there are also parents out there suffering the same problems that the women have to face.
Besides this entire social-centered theme, the show also wants to be a mystery show, telling a supernatural story, one that makes use of horror elements and even a bit of black comedy to try to find its own personality. The mix isn’t offensive or bad in any shape or form, it is just messy and scattered.
The supernatural elements feel very tamed, so it feels like a lackluster effort to even include them if they’re just going to be half-baked. There isn’t enough of a horror atmosphere to justify their existence in the show. The mystery aspect is a lot more compelling. The resolution of it is closely tied to the show’s themes, and the answer to the mystery serves to feed those themes and presents us with a picture that is better to be avoided in the future.
The acting is adequate; everyone in the cast does a good job, but no one stands out. Not even Natasha, played by Michelle de Swarte, seems worth following, but the strength of the show is not in the characters but in the theme. It would have been nice to find a better balance between plot, character, and theme, but The Baby just doesn’t reach those heights.
The Baby is not a bad show. In fact, it is quite entertaining, but some of its elements don’t feel complete and make the show feel like just a standard effort, nothing memorable. However, at least while watching, it is a good time.