After six episodes, Baby, the Italian teen drama that premiered on Netflix November 30, comes to a shockingly abrupt close. You might be thinking: "Is this really where it ends?" Yes, yes it is. In a a sense, the show reads like a prequel for everything to come after the finale’s climax.
Baby, which is based loosely on real events, follows two high school girls as they’re pulled into a prostitution scheme. At first, Chiara (Benedetta Porcaroli) and Ludo (Alice Pagani) find the income liberating and the male attention flattering. When Saverio (Paolo Calabresi), the ring's organizer, shows his lasciviousness and tries to take advantage of Ludo, they realize the inherent danger of their set-up. They remember their “business partners,” Saverio and Fiore (Giuseppe Maggio), are straight-up criminals.
So, where does this leave Ludo and Chiara? A few key events in the finale set us up for a second season, should it happen. First, Saverio dies. Then, after Chiara is accepted to study abroad in the U.S. the following school year, she decides to stay in Italy with Ludo. Now that Ludo has Saverio's phone with all of their clients' information, she and Chiara can take charge of their own business.
Clearly, there's a story in place for season 2. But will there actually be a season 2? Given the controversy Baby incited even before its release, we're skeptical.
At the beginning of the year, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), along with 55 victims of sex trafficking, released a letter of concern regarding the show's alleged glamorization of the real girls' DIY prostitution ring. "Please understand, there are no 'baby prostitutes' — only sexually abused, exploited, and raped children. At least 40 men were suspected of having purchased the girls, and eight traffickers were arrested — the leader of the ring receiving a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison," the letter read.
Here, the letter refers to the specifics of the "baby squillo" (or "baby prostitute") scandal. In 2013, two teenagers from Rome's posh Paroli district, one aged 14 and one 15, were found at the center of a DIY prostitution ring. The case's details were shocking. Not only did the girls' clients include politicians, lawyers, businessmen, and relatives (by marriage) of Benito Mussolini, the younger girl's mother had forced her daughter into prostitution.
The NCOSE questions whether these disturbing events are appropriate fodder for a TV show. “Despite being at ground zero of the #MeToo movement, Netflix appears to have gone completely tone-deaf on the realities of sexual exploitation,” said Dawn Hawkins, executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, told Indiewire. “Despite the outcry from survivors of sex trafficking, subject matter experts, and social service providers, Netflix promotes sex trafficking by insisting on streaming ‘Baby.’ Clearly, Netflix is prioritizing profits over victims of abuse.”
Hawkins continued, "This show glamorizes sexual abuse and trivializes the experience of countless underage women and men who have suffered through sex trafficking.”
Not that a little controversy has ever stopped Netflix from moving forward with a popular TV show. Remember the outcry produced by 13 Reasons Why's graphic depiction of suicide? And remember when 13 Reasons Why got a second season anyway? Insatiable, another controversial TV show, is also getting a second season.
As of now, Netflix has not confirmed whether a second season of Baby will be ordered. But the company is excited about its third Italian-language original. "We are proud to continue to invest in original content in Italy," said Erik Barmack, VP of International Originals at Netflix. "Baby is representative of the new, edgy programming from talented producers that we cherish. We couldn’t be more excited to start work on this show."