A further exploration of tiny humans from a scientific perspective is full of fascinating bits and bobs, but perhaps a bit less warmth than you might expect.
Babies Part 2 (Netflix) debuted on June 19, 2020. Check out our review of the first season of Babies by clicking these words.
It only seems fitting that all the official promotion images for Babies are of tiny little humans covered in electrodes and wires, since this Netflix docuseries, which debuted in February with six episodes and returns today with a further half-dozen, delights in the scientific approach to its subject matter. And in a way, this makes perfect sense. You can’t interview a baby, after all, and while a lot of the parents in this show seem willing to allow cameras into areas of their lives that most people would prefer to be kept private, the series isn’t interested in focusing on them, either. Instead, it takes a rigorously scientific view of young life that seeks to explain tiny personhood in clear, peer-reviewed terms.
What’s refreshing about this approach is that it isn’t trying to be instructive. Anyone who has or has had young children knows that a common theme is everyone around you, from parents to health visitors to people on internet forums, telling you that you’re doing everything wrong. Babies Part 2, like the first part before it, just wants to take a broad, hopefully explanatory look at various developmental milestones and fun quirks, explained to the audience by various international experts in neurology and behavior and such, and occasionally — though not always — demonstrated on-screen by its subjects.
The appeal of Babies, or I suppose the lack of appeal for some, is in how these two components awkwardly mesh together. Most parenting documentaries are defined by warm sentimentality, but while it often has some lovely moments, this one isn’t, really. For some, that detached and clinical approach can, ironically or not depending on your perspective, sap some of the magic of the process; the magician explaining how a trick works. For others, it’ll be exactly what they’re looking for.
Across these six new episodes, Babies Part 2 covers subjects from the senses to nature versus nurture, that last one a big, complicated and divisive topic that’s a welcome inclusion but can’t really be properly explored in 50 minutes. But the overall tone is much the same as it was back in February, and it’ll appeal on the same level, though I’d suggest to those interested in behavioral science more than those interested in babies. Netflix’s diverse documentary lineup is only further fleshed-out by this new outing.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.