This article contains minor spoilers for “Baby”.
If you’ve ever been the decidedly single, childless in your group of friends, you probably already know what you should never think, let alone say out loud to your pregnant friend, “Are you going to turn into a giant asshole when you have a baby? “
But that’s a line from the provocative new HBO horror series “The Baby,” by creators Siân Robins-Grace and Lucy Gaymer. It also stems from the real fear of so many women whose female friends voluntarily or inadvertently turn their backs on them when they join mother.
We rarely ever talk about this feeling, which may be why it barely appears on the screen in a satisfying way (“The Worst Person in the World” is an example). But “The Baby” goes there, inexplicably and steadfastly, through the story of Natasha (Michelle de Swarte). She is a 30-year-old single woman who, like many people, enjoys her free time with a cigarette, not being stressed over day care and spending late nights doing what the hell she wants.
“The Baby” brings us right into her world and captures her socially unacceptable fears and anxieties early in the pilot episode as she and her friends Mags (Shvorne Marks) and Rita (Isy Suttie) enjoy one of their usual poker games. But there is something wrong with this special evening. It starts fun enough, with the trio exchanging playful jabs. Natasha blows a cigarette and hands it to Mags to take a puff. You know, things are lived.
But a noticeable shift happens when a baby cries in the next room. Mags drops the cigarette and hurries to grab her wailing baby girl. Never mind that Mags’ partner had to see their child tonight before work enticed. The point for Natasha is that she can not even have one night where it is only her and her friends as before.
If you’ve been in the situation where you’ve desperately tried to preserve your circle of friends as it’s starting to shatter for some reason, you know it’s deeply uncomfortable when the cause is a small, helpless human being. Still, Natasha can no longer hold on to her frustration as Mags returns to the main room and cradles her child.
That’s because Mags is back in mother state and can not even pay attention to the funny story Natasha decides to share, probably to prevent herself from raging completely. “Shall we go back to pretending we’re hanging out?” she finally asks angrily.
It does not help that Rita uses this already tense moment to reveal that she is three months pregnant, to which Natasha answers with the “massive asshole” question.
Natasha says sheis sincerely happy for his friends. But at the same time, she feels that she is losing them – and she obviously does not handle that very well. She cannot formulate it, probably because the very legitimate feeling is taboo in itself. Instead, she jokingly tells Rita that it’s not too late to have an abortion.
It’s a few minutes to say the least. Natasha’s behavior is selfish and insensitive. But when it comes to how we discuss the relationship turmoil that new mothers – and their childless friends – deal with, it is the former narrative that tends to weigh heavier because we live in a society that no matter how progressive it is. claims to be. , still desires the tradition of motherhood for women above all else.
It’s a shame, especially because there’s a lot to unpack about a woman like Natasha who does not have the capacity or perhaps the will to understand what lies behind these feelings. she have. “The Baby” takes it upon itself as it forces its protagonist and her audience to consider the root of her aversion to motherhood through bizarre and meaningful maternal encounters.
Like a horror story, “The Baby” puts its protagonist in front of his deepest fears: a baby. But not just any baby; a precious little boy who literally falls into her arms and threatens to ruin her life and relationship. Because, for Natasha and many other real women, that’s what babies do. And, whatever she tries, she’s unable to get rid of this bundle of insanity.
If this was a series more in line with e.g. comedy “Baby Boom” from 1987, you would expect Natasha to gradually fall for this child and her feelings about motherhood to develop, as was the case for Diane Keaton’s businesswoman JC Wiatt.
But Natasha is far from JC and we are no longer in the 80s. “The Baby” focuses on the legitimate horror of having its life interrupted by what is considered a natural rite of passage for women, and ultimately reveals the truth that resonates behind that horror.
“The Baby”, even when it’s weirdest, unpacks the cause and effect of Natasha’s fears without sacrificing who the character is. As daunting as it may be, it’s refreshing to hear a female character say some of the things she does. For example, she takes the baby to a “mom and me” playroom where Mags is a member and has no qualms about telling her she’s better than everyone there after they’ve tried to shame her for her parenting style. Because this motherhood thing is not her reality; It is theirs.
Women are socialized to keep these thoughts in their heads. But it is far more significant when they express them aloud – aand more importantly, narratives like “The Baby” encourage others, mothers or not, to sit with this type of protagonist instead of isolating her as a boorish sideline character.
It makes room for compassion that may not have been there before. And then we can have a real discussion about different views on motherhood, fear of being abandoned, and how to deal with any friendship that is irrevocably changing.