It appears that to survive by the skin of your teeth from the menacing clasp of the duplicitous world, you need to lead an undisclosed secret life, or so Chiara (Benedetta Porcaroli), our sixteen-year-old full-time heroine and part-time damsel in distress claims. The series opens with Chiara glaring apprehensively into nothingness, all while Nicollò (Lorenzo Zurzolo), her classmate slash her best friend who’s supposedly a “paragon of virtue”, Camilla’s (Chabeli Sastre Gonzalez) brother sleeps soundly next to her. The thing is, the heartthrob at present is already dating someone else and that scenario as of then is a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode when you least expect it to happen. That scene indicates to the viewer that Chiara, be it in her best interest or not, is already leading a secret life.
In spite of that, Chiara already concocted plans to obtain a scholarship in order to study abroad to evade her seemingly perfect life in Rome since trouble even looms over in her house as her parents are in the brink of divorce. Though, her destination is set to abroad, Chiara makes one stop along the way: classmate and outcast Ludovica (Alice Pagani). Enters the dubbed good girl gone bad with a devil-may-care attitude to the mix who piques Chiara’s attention. In a short space of time, both these leading ladies strike an unlikely friendship that has them playing truant and indulging in hedonistic existence of booze and parties.
As the story goes along, like cream, the main plot rises to the top but so does the scum and in this case in the form of Saverio played by Paolo Calabresi, the pimp with the sole aim of recruiting these girls for his own benefit to his pool of deceitful scheme. Thus begins the journey of the seduced Chiara and Ludo dwelling into the prostitution ring under Saverio’s supervision after much deliberation. This is where the scandalous true story behind this show comes out to play. In 2014, Rome uncovered the jaw-dropping revelation of two high school girls from the wealthy Parioli district were selling sex in order to purchase designer bags and state-of-the-art electronic gadgets. This was huge news because even though prostitution is legal in Italy – paying for sex with a female under the age of 18 is a criminal offence and the scandal predominantly centered on one 14-year-old and another 16-year-old. The scandal now known to be the ‘Baby Squillo’ scandal (which roughly translated to baby prostitution) essentially caused an uproar and outrage across the country. Nonetheless, Netflix’s ‘Baby’ is simply a tame adaptation of the alarming true story.
Amidst the storm that is brewing in Baby, the show also showcases other characters such as the resident emotional bad boy, Damiano played by Riccardo Mandolini who takes a liking to Chiara but starts dating Camilla instead due to unforeseen circumstances. However, what is more surprising of the character’s arc is that, Saverio even has Damiano under his leash to be reduced only to a drug mule. Yet, the show’s climax hits the fan when Saverio is involved in a car accident caused by Damiano that renders him on life support and eventually dead. At the end of the day, Chiara gets a hold of Saverio’s cellphone and begins mischievously texting clients and even reciprocating their texts, because as Chiara says in the show, “the best thing about having a secret life is that you never know what’s in store for you”.
Ultimately, the show’s anticlimactic ending is exactly what the show needs to set up the premise for Season 2, that has already been green lighted and is on the way.
‘Baby’ Season 1 is currently streaming on Netflix.