×
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

  • Us Television Writers and Producers Maria

    Mad Men’s’ Andre, Maria Jacquemetton Set for Series Mania’s UGC Writers Campus

    MADRID — André and Maria Jacquemetton, the Emmy and WGA Award-winning writer-producers of AMC’s “Mad Men” and consulting producers on Amazon Studios’ “The Romanoffs,” will serve as Guests of Honor at Series Mania’s UGC Writers Campus, a workshop whose participants include Denmark’s Christina Miller-Harris and Israel’s Noy Carmel. The Jacquemettons will deliver a masterclass and [...]

  • China Plans Remake of BBC Time-Travel

    China Plans Remake of BBC Time-Travel Cop Show ‘Life on Mars’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    A Chinese “Life on Mars” is in the works after BBC Studios and Phoenix Entertainment inked a deal to create a Mandarin-language version of the time-travel cop series. BBC Studios will officially unveil the format deal at Showcase, its annual programming market for international buyers, which is now underway in Liverpool, England. “Life on Mars” [...]

  • DF-10193 – L-R: Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor),

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Leads MPSE Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed up love from Cinema Audio Society sound mixers with a pair of honors at the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 66th annual Golden Reel Awards Sunday night. The musical biopic scored wins for dialogue and ADR as well as sound editing in a musical. The film is nominated for sound editing at the Oscars [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" and

    WGA Awards 2019: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?,' 'Eighth Grade' Win Screenplay Awards

    In a pair of upsets, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” has won the Writers Guild of America’s adapted screenplay award for Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade.” The major television trophies went to “The Americans,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Homeland” and “Barry” for the [...]

  • 50 Cent Power

    NYPD Officer Under Investigation for Allegedly Telling Police to Shoot 50 Cent 'on Sight'

    A New York City precinct commander is under investigation for allegedly telling officers to shoot rapper 50 Cent on sight, a police rep confirmed to Variety on Sunday. “The matter is under internal review,” an NYPD rep said, declining to answer further questions. Deputy Inspector Emanuel Gonzalez is accused of telling officers during a June 7 roll [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content