Romana Andò, Danielle Hipkins

Teen Identity, Affect and Sex in Rome. Italian teen girl audiences and the dissonant pleasures of Netflix’s underage prostitution drama Baby

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Netflix, Baby, girlhood, prostitution, postfeminism, audiences

The controversial Italian Netflix original TV series Baby (2018-2020) is based on the real-life events of an underage female prostitution scandal in Italy. This article examines the significance of this TV series for Italian teen girl audiences in the context of broader transnational discourses of girlhood, questions of «girlpower» and its limits, female friendship, and particularly sexuality and sexualisation. We use audience research to pay particular attention to the ways in which Italian female teens understand the series. Our research shows how for young audiences the dramatic news story acts as a hook and a point of departure to address a much wider range of concerns about the pressures of girlhood in an Italian context. We find that the shifting identities of the two lead characters allow audiences to imagine themselves in permanent «becoming», rather than as progressing towards a fixed goal. Viewers’ responses show how affective and aesthetic strategies used in the series show a series of dissonant viewing pleasures in exploring the often unspoken difficulties of Italian teen female experience, particularly in relation to the expression of sexuality

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