The Baby, a new miniseries on Sky Atlantic, has a strong enough first episode to discourage women from ever having children. It centers on chef Natasha (Michelle de Swarte), who receives more on vacation than she bargained for when a young mother perishes after falling from a clifftop in front of her. The infant of the deceased mother falls into her arms a short while later from the skies. But this infant isn’t your typical one. It turns out that this child is a demon that has terrorized and murdered women for at least two generations. He picks them, takes their identities away from them, burns them out, and finally destroys them.
The Baby might not be as unbelievable to many mothers watching at home as it first appears. In heterosexual partnerships, the workplace, and our patriarchal culture, males frequently provide women with little support because they are still viewed as the primary carers. Consider Mags, Natasha’s acquaintance who is struggling with being a new mother. She is too fatigued to carry on a conversation, both physically and emotionally, and in one instance, her companion asks her some difficult questions. Natasha queries whether Mags’ pregnancy has improved life. It’s just a lot, she says in response. But has it improved at all? “Dunno. It’s difficult to describe.
Where other shows would hesitate, the all-female creative team behind The Baby has the courage to pose these queries. What if being a mother isn’t everything it seems to be? What if I decide against having children? Girls are taught to care for dolls from an early age, and society gradually shapes their perceptions of motherhood as the standard. The Baby portrays a different and more realistic side of women who are required to give up their identities, social lives, and occupations in order to carry out one of the most vital jobs on the planet.
Later, we learn that Mary (Sex Education’s Tanya Reynolds), the horrible tot’s first mother, was a lesbian caught in an unhappy heterosexual marriage during the 1970s, a time when coming out was even harder. She deserts her husband for Nour (Seyan Sarvan), but finds out she is pregnant after a few weeks. Mary makes an appointment for an abortion, but her husband prevents it with the full support of the medical staff who were supposed to look after her.
Mary’s situation worsens when her husband locks her up and makes her give birth against her will. She undergoes drugging, sedation, and force feeding throughout the route. When she becomes agitated, one doctor tells her, “It’s not good for the baby,” and then injects her with more tranquilizers. She is a body, not a being, so her welfare is not even taken into account.
Mary’s condition has been deemed harsh by some viewers, but is it really? Following the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, a landmark case that legalized abortion on a federal level, women in America recently lost the ability to control what happens to their bodies. Women should be the sole ones in authority of their own bodies. As we observe via Mary, the consequences of not possessing this right are catastrophic. She experiences a mental collapse and kills herself. Mary’s baby is also a victim of this, as Natasha notes later, because he is “a product of trauma” after being abandoned and seeing his mother’s death.
At the same time, the program addresses the rarely acknowledged reasons why we have children. Natasha’s mother, who was unable to cope, abandoned Natasha and her sister Bobbi (Amber Grappy). In an effort to “add joy” to a failing marriage, Bobbi served as a sticking plaster. Bobbi replies, extremely distraught about the consequences of why her parents had her, “That’s a lot of pressure.”
Although The Baby is a work of fiction, it is much more realistic than it first appears to be. We need to be open and honest about how challenging being a mother is and how unrealistic today’s expectations are. When Natasha is forced into parenthood, she loses her way of life. She is a shadow of the woman she once was, striving to be the “ideal mother,” in her eyes.
People only discuss her through the lens of her infant, not her character or her illustrious past. In a world where assistance is readily available, a woman shouldn’t be forced to give up her life. But neither should women be coerced into having children; as The Baby demonstrates, those consequences are the worst of all and have the potential to kill us.