Becoming You approaches a worthy subject in the earliest years of our children’s lives, but that approach is a bit too flimsy to be of much merit.
I don’t understand children, and I’ve got two of my own. I suspect most people – perhaps parents, especially – feel the same way, which is why docuseries’ about our kids’ development seem to be so popular. Netflix threw their hat into the ring with Babies, and Apple TV+ follows suit here with Becoming You, the second in a planned trilogy of multi-part documentary series that began with Tiny World in October and will conclude with Earth At Night In Color next month.
Across six parts narrated by Olivia Colman, Becoming You is a jet-setting demonstration of children’s growth through some of the earliest and most crucial milestones of their lives within their first five years. It must have all been filmed pre-pandemic, since it encompasses an impressively wide spectrum of humanity, hopping all around the world and touching on the lives of more than 100 kiddos. Six 45-ish-minute episodes scarcely seem like enough.
And this, of course, is the problem. Kids are cute, sure, but it’s hard to get invested in their lives and stories when you’re only spending about five minutes with them, and in telling so many stories in such a quick, light fashion, Becoming You, rather than championing the individual quirks and characteristics and diversity of children, makes them all seem part of one huge, homogenized group – the opposite of the intended effect.
It’s particularly annoying since some of the subjects and far-flung settings seem ripe for a depth of examination that they never come close to receiving. It also must be said, on the subject of those subjects, that there’s a fair amount of assertion without evidence that qualifies as pushing an agenda here – nothing egregious, mind, and it’d all probably be nice if were true, but I’d hesitate before blindly swallowing any of the information that’s presented as factual, at least not without some research of your own.
But Becoming You isn’t really intended as a thorough scientific exploration – it’s a nice, light interpretation of a very relatable subject, and it’ll probably do good business for Apple TV+ this weekend, especially with Colman’s well-known voice steering viewers through it, even if her narration is – through no fault of her own, really – a bit utilitarian. Fittingly for being about kids, though, there’s a harmful lack of focus here as the series treats these children like well-worn toys, constantly dropping one for another.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.