×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Netflix Unveils Italian Original ‘Baby,’ Based on Real-Life Teen Prostitution Scandal

At a preview Tuesday of “Baby,” its second Italian original scripted series, Netflix was eager to defuse the controversy over the show’s storyline, which involves teen prostitution and takes its cue from a real-life scandal in Rome.

Andrea De Sica (“Children of the Night”), one of the show’s two directors, called it “the story of how a group of youths can embark on an adventure in the labyrinths of transgression, at times even getting lost.” The series bows on Netflix globally on Friday.

“We tried to be as faithful as possible to their conflicts and their choices,” De Sica told reporters at a screening of two “Baby” episodes. He added that “what you’ve seen is not a chronicle of real life events” and “it’s up to you to draw your conclusions.”

The show is loosely based on the discovery in 2014 that two high school girls from Rome’s wealthy residential Parioli district were selling sex in order to buy designer clothes and electronic gadgets. Five people, including the mothers of both young women, were arrested at the time.

Since the announcement of “Baby” a year ago, Netflix has come under fire from such organizations as the U.S.-based National Center on Sexual Exploitation for glamorizing underage prostitution.

One of the screenwriters, Re Salvador, acknowledged that they took their cue from the real-life “Baby Squillo” scandal, but insisted that “it’s still a story about love, not prostitution.” The show’s other director, Anna Negri (“Good Morning Heartache”), said that one of her tasks was “to bring a female gaze” to “Baby” but that her emotional connection to the material “wasn’t just the feminine aspect.”

The two episodes shown to journalists Tuesday did not feature any scenes of prostitution. But it was clear that the narrative was building up to just that, along with other dubious behavior by the nihilistic, social media-crazed Roman rich kids played by its young ensemble cast, led by Benedetta Porcaroli and Alice Pagani. The show runs to six parts, though it was originally announced as an eight-episode series.

Netflix Vice President of International Originals Kelly Luegenbiehl said that the target audience for “Baby” is the young-adult crowd. “The first thing that we are always looking for is authenticity, and this show has that,” she said.

The screenwriters, including Salvador, belong to a collective called the Grams. Producer Nicola De Angelis said the young writers were crucial to getting “Baby” greenlit by Netflix. As for teen prostitution being a hot potato, De Angelis noted that “Baby” was announced “at the worse possible time, when anything associated with sexual harassment was a problem.” 

But he said that Netflix’s response was: “Go forward. We believe in this product. We believe that this generation needs to be depicted in the most natural and authentic way….There was some turmoil, but we got through it because we always had their strong support.”

More TV

  • Al Burton

    Al Burton, 'Jeffersons' and 'Diff’rent Strokes' Producer, Dies at 91

    Television producer and executive Al Burton, known for his work on “The Jeffersons” and “Diff’rent Strokes,” died Tuesday at his home in San Mateo, California. He was 91. Burton leaves behind a six-decade legacy of hit television shows that also included “One Day at a Time,” “Silver Spoons,” “Square Pegs” and “Facts of Life.” However, long [...]

  • Dwyane Wade Sets Multi-Year Development Deal

    Dwyane Wade Sets Multi-Year Development Deal at WarnerMedia

    Dwayne Wade is bouncing his way into WarnerMedia’s court. The retired NBA All Star has signed a multi-faceted, multi-year deal with the company, including a development deal via his 59th & Prairie Entertainment production banner. Part of the deal sees Wade sign on as a commentator at Turner Sports. He is set to make appearances [...]

  • Katie Couric Sheryl Sandberg

    Katie Couric Steamrolls Sheryl Sandberg in Roving Vanity Fair Summit Interview

    Sending a jolt through a luxurious and excessively polite afternoon in Beverly Hills, veteran journalist Katie Couric delivered a relentless series of hardball questions to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday. Speaking in conversation at the sixth annual Vanity Fair New Establishment summit at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Couric’s [...]

  • EVIL is a psychological mystery that

    CBS Renews 'Evil,' Orders Full Seasons of Four Other Freshman Shows

    CBS is doubling down on all its new shows. The network has renewed “Evil” for a second season, and handed out full-season orders to its other four freshman series, namely “All Rise,” “Carol’s Second Act,” “The Unicorn,” and “Bob Hearts Abishola.” “Evil” is set to conclude its 13-episode first season (creators Michelle and Robert King [...]

  • Jamie Lee Curtis

    Jamie Lee Curtis to Produce Military Drama With Put Pilot Order at Fox

    Jamie Lee Curtis is teaming up with April Fitzsimmons and Berlanti Productions for a drama project that has received a put pilot order at Fox. Titled “Chain of Command,” the one-hour project follows a young Air Force investigator with radical crime-solving methodology who returns to her hometown to join a military task force that doesn’t [...]

  • Michael MannLACMA: Art and Film Gala,

    TV News Roundup: Michael Mann to Direct and Executive Produce HBO Max's 'Tokyo Vice'

    In today’s TV news roundup, HBO Max names MIchael Mann as a director and executive producer of “Tokyo Vice” and Chip and Joanna Gaines announce the first original series coming to the couple’s Magnolia Network. DATES Netflix announced a six-episode docuseries centered on Nasty Cherry, the latest all-female group signed to Charli XCX’s label will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content