There's nothing quite like a supernatural series to incite binge-watching, contemplation, and maybe checking over your shoulder to make sure there are no monsters, creatures, or ghosts trailing after you. It's a genre that has been a huge hit with young adult viewers in particular, with shows ranging from The Vampire Diaries to Freeform's new Cloak & Dagger to Supernatural itself winning devoted followings and often enjoying very long runs. Netflix's new series The Innocents provides a fresh take on a supernatural creature of sorts, all against the backdrop of young love between two teens who swiftly find themselves in over their heads.
The Innocents kicks off with teen Brit lovebirds June (Sorcha Groundsell) and Harry (Percelle Ascott) making plans to run away together. It quickly becomes clear that these are not just two lovesick teenagers who want some time alone, as June's father (Sam Hazeldine) intends to move June to a remote area of Scotland where she will have extremely limited contact with others. As one character points out, it all feels rather Wicker Man. June's mother has been mysteriously absent for three years, while Harry's father is altered from a coma and his detective mother (Nadine Marshall) is busy with work. Their mission to escape the night before June's 16th birthday hits a snag when they're accosted by a strange Norwegian man (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) who would look terrifying even if this wasn't a supernatural series.
Confronted by this threat, June finds herself undergoing a physical change, and Harry is shocked to wake in a motel and discover that his pretty 16-year-old girlfriend is in the body of the hairy Norwegian. June is a shape-shifter, but her shifting comes at a serious cost for the people whose appearances she borrows, and a particularly creepy twist comes when June accidentally shifts into the body of a pregnant woman. The secret behind June's abilities seems to lie with her absent mother, an unsettling doctor (Guy Pearce), and the women living in a remote area to deal with their shifting.
Created, written, and executive produced by Hania Elkington and Simon Duric, this is no normal tale of star-crossed lovers facing family and peer pressures No, they must make choices between their dreams of a simply living a normal life together and risking what little they have for answers. June and Harry embark on a number of side quests and encounter some unexpected people, and it's never easy to guess where The Innocents is going next. Sorcha Groundsell and Percelle Ascott have a chemistry that fluctuates from naive to intense to even antagonistic at times as they try to protect each other while still figuring out what's going on.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of The Innocents is that it manages to put a twist on the concept of shape-shifters, which have been done time and time again in movies, TV, and literature. The shifters of The Innocents aren't the kind you find anywhere else on television, and the implications of June's changes may stick in your mind even after you finish the eight episodes of the first season.
I say "the first season" not because The Innocents has already scored a renewal but rather because the end of the first season almost demands the production of a second in the not-too-distant future. Season 1 is a slow burn that takes its time -- sometimes more than necessary -- to build June and Harry's domestic world as well as the wild world they're beginning to discover. Answers to the biggest questions are slow to come, and the result in a show that is ideal for binge-watching.
That said, the episodes are heavy on exposition, and you'll have to prepare yourselves for some subtitles whenever certain characters decide to begin speaking Norwegian. At a certain point, the exposition begins to feel stretched out by the side quests that take June and Harry to unexpected corners of London for some new experiences. These side quests are entertaining enough, but at a certain point, you might find yourself realizing that these crazy kids are wandering into a lot of conveniences and coincidences as they learn about shifters. A lot of the story probably could have been condensed into fewer episodes and opened the series up to more. Still, that's why we have to hope for a Season 2!
You can watch all eight episodes of The Innocents streaming on Netflix starting at 12:01 a.m. PT on Friday, August 24. If you're in the mood to binge-watch some classic supernatural elements as you've likely never seen them before along with a sweet and surprising love story, The Innocents is the show for you. At only eight episodes, you may find it difficult to stop watching. If you're in the market for some additional streaming options, take a look at our 2018 Netflix premiere guide.