TV Series Review
Probably most of us, at one time or another, have wished we could be someone else. But June … well, she takes it to a whole new level.
While most girls her age are changing hairstyles and boyfriends and favorite songs, June changes into different people. Like, literally. If she's in A) physical contact with someone and B) freaks out, well, zap! She takes the shape of that person, and that person hangs out in a catatonic state.
It's a nifty trick, to be sure, but not one done at your average sleepover. For one, June needs to be scared out of her gourd to enact the change. For another, the shape-shifting process itself can be a ticklish thing: If someone interrupts a shape-shifter in mid-change, the consequences can be rather dire.
Oh, yes, that's right—June's not the only person with this curious skill. There are others. And some of those folks want to meet June in the worst sort of way.
Under the Skin
June's condition is hereditary, it seems. Her mother has the same ability (albeit with a different trigger) and lives at a place called Sanctum—a nice, windswept Norwegian commune supervised by Ben Halvorson, a doctor who specializes in "treating" folks like June. Ben would very much like to bring June to Sanctum, too. It's the best place for her, he reasons. The safest.
But John, June's stepfather, thinks June would be better off at home under his strict supervision. Verrrry strict supervision.
And then there's Harry, June's understandably confused boyfriend. The two were in the process of running off together when June started turning into other people. And let's be honest, that can be a bit off-putting. Harry loves her, though, even if she occasionally looks like a pregnant nurse or a large male kidnapper. And because he knows June loves him back, he'll do whatever he can to ensure their happiness together—even if he has to battle protective fathers, creepy communes and really uncomfortable transformations every episode to do so. Hey, the course of true love never has run smooth, has it?
The Atlantic called Netflix's eight-episode series "the most Netflixy drama yet," and I can see why. It's a supernatural story featuring two twitterpated teens getting into a whole lot of trouble and engaging in ton of age-inappropriate behavior—all elements that Netflix has plenty of experience bringing to viewers. And let's face it, Netflix loves shellacking its teen-targeted dramas with R-rated content and, naturally, a TV-MA rating. Kids, don't watch this, Netflix seems to say with a wink and a nudge.
Granted, The Innocents doesn't go as far as some Netflix shows. It's not as profane or disturbingly sexualized as 13 Reasons Why, for instance, or as horrifyingly salacious as Insatiable.
But that's hardly reason to rise up and give The Innocents a standing ovation. While the content seems to fit the plot, the plot is plenty problematic in itself. It is, after all, about a pair of underage runaways bolting from school and family to live their lives as their 16-year-old selves see fit—and let's face it, there's a reason why kids that age should still be under parental supervision. Our two protagonists have sex, sell drugs and are in near constant peril at an age when they really should just be worrying about the latest alegebra test. Same-sex attractions fall into play, too.
And we shouldn't forget that June's particular, um, talents can make hers and Harry's romance look kinda creepy. Sure, young Harry understands that underneath the skin of that thirtysomething nurse beats the heart of a teen girl. But the judge might not see it that way.
Netflix's newest show is certainly a lot of things: A romance, a supernatural thriller, a further refinement to Netflix's own mysterious algothrym. But despite its title, it is, alas, far from innocent.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Sorcha Groundsell as June; Percelle Ascott as Harry; Guy Pearce as Ben Halvorson; Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson as Steinar; Laura Birn as Elena; Sam Hazeldine as John; Arthur Hughes as Ryan; Nadine Marshall as Christine; Lise Risom Olsen as Sigrid; Ingunn Beate Øyen as Runa; Philip Wright as Lewis Polk; Abigail Hardingham as Kam