The grown-up — which is to say, the true — star of the present is Michelle de Swarte, a British mannequin, comic and reality-TV performer (“I’m a Superstar, Get Me Out of Right here! Now!”). She performs Natasha, 38, whom we first see having a snit when a good friend’s child interferes together with her poker-night rituals. Natasha has points with infants, which circulation partly from her need to reside her life as she chooses and partly, we be taught, from her personal relationship to her mom. One of many present’s many jokes-in-passing is that the strong-willed and latently heroic Natasha is simply as immature because the child she finds herself caring for.
That child actually falls out of the sky and into Natasha’s arms, simply after one grownup’s loss of life and simply earlier than the deaths of a number of extra, the central joke being that individuals who are available contact with the unnamed and unbearably cute toddler have a tendency to satisfy ugly ends — apart from Natasha, the one who doesn’t need him however can’t appear to do away with him. When she tells family and friends members that the infant isn’t hers, they ignore her; the infant can apparently persuade them that he’s all the time been round.
As Natasha seeks to unburden herself, attempting first to depart the infant at a police station and, when that doesn’t work, shifting on to extra devious and violent options, the present constantly scores factors off the realities and truisms of motherhood. Despite the fact that Natasha doesn’t need the infant, he instantly dominates her life and causes her to alienate her buddies in precisely the methods they alienated her. That he additionally seems to be a serial killer — an precise monster — is only one tiny step additional. A mysterious lady who has been monitoring the infant’s bloody progress tells Natasha: “He’ll bulldoze your life, destroy your relationships, and when he’s acquired you utterly to himself, he’ll destroy you. It’s what he does.” Sounds proper.
Along with being a darkish, satirical comedy, “The Child” is, because the style and the wants of episodic drama demand, a thriller as effectively. That aspect of the present, with Natasha wanting into the lifetime of the girl who was accountable for the infant simply earlier than her, is amusing in an off-handed means. However in one other transfer typical of the style — consider it as “Get Out” syndrome — the present takes an unlucky flip at a sure level, when it feels the necessity to take the themes it has been adroitly finessing and make them express and grindingly literal. This includes some lengthy flashbacks to much less enlightened occasions, and it may be seen as an growth of the present’s perspective right into a extra severe story about ladies’s management of their our bodies. Nevertheless it works towards every thing that has made the present partaking.
I gained’t spoil when the adjustments set in, although I ought to point out that HBO made six of the eight episodes accessible for evaluate. So issues might flip round. And regardless, there’s pleasure in de Swarte’s portrayal of the dogged, take-no-prisoners Natasha and within the sweetly addled efficiency of the newcomer Amber Grappy as Natasha’s youthful sister. And there’s the infant. It doesn’t matter what else is going on, he kills.