Ah, first love. There’s nothing quite like it. Do you remember yours and how dramatic it was? If you think you and your beau have been through some tough sh*t, it’s nothing compared to the relationship woes depicted in this new Netflix series.
Netflix’ upcoming British thriller, The Innocents, follows the story of two teenagers—June (played by Sorcha Groundsell), and Harry (played by Percelle Ascott)—who decides to run away together to escape their messed-up family lives; June from her restrictive father, while Harry, from a somewhat broken home. Sounds familiar? Well, if you think it sounds suspiciously like that other hit, The End of the F*cking World, you can’t be more wrong. Two teenagers out on a you-and-me-against-the-world adventure is where the resemblance between the shows end. The overall tone and cinematography of this new show is more eerie and serious. As for the supernatural aspect, there are some similarities with Sense 8. Yep, that’s right, The Innocents could be your average young adult story, except it’s actually a sci-fi romantic coming-of-age.
Unlike other young lovers who take off with no concrete plans except hit the open road, the two soon found themselves in a situation much, much bigger than themselves, and certainly more complicated than looking for shelter or money, or surviving the streets—June’s shape-shifting abilities, which either of them were previously unaware of. Immediately, the young couple’s newfound freedom was put to a halt when a mysterious man tried to kidnap June for her “gift.” We then discover that the man was sent by a Professor (played by Guy Pierce) to retrieve and bring June to Norway, where he runs a home for the few women with similar abilities—including June’s mom—to “cure” them of their “illness.” Guy Pierce’s performance shone, as we’re left questioning the professor’s true intent for the rest of the series.
Meanwhile, Sorcha and Percelle’s on-screen chemistry was undeniable, and we learn to root for them despite some moments which can be credited to youth carelessness and naiveté. When we are introduced to the leading characters early on in the show, they were already madly in love with each other. In fact, their love—bordering on overly-cheesy at times—seemed like the ominous theme of the season. “Out of everyone I’ve ever met, I choose you, June McDaniel,” Harry constantly reassures her shape-shifting girlfriend, whose teenage identity crisis becomes all too literal at times.
The show is commendable too, for having strong female characters. Though June’s gullibility and her being overly dependent on Harry to keep her on the right track can get frustrating sometimes (again, we can credit that to her naiveté and the fact that she was sheltered her entire life), she eventually came on her own, and was able to show the audience what really made her special. Moreover, for the other shape-shifting women under the professor’s care, for a while, the story line circled around the tension among them vying for the professor’s attention—but eventually, redeeming moments prevailed in the show as well.
Though I think the lengthy eight episodes, almost an hour each, could be considerably reduced to exclude unnecessary moments, overall, The Innocents is a must-see for aficionados of the romantic sci-fi trope. And though it might center on young love, its themes are certainly not limited to young adults. Oh, and that cliffhanger in the last episode should be enough reason for you to stick it out until the end.
Watch the trailer below and make sure to catch it on Netflix on Aug. 24.
Art by Marian Hukom
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