Dear Child (original title: Liebes Kind) explores the relationship between the pair’s horrific escape from captivity and a 13-year-old missing persons case, based on Romy Hausman’s international best-selling novel of the same name. The gripping six-part miniseries, adapted for the screen in German, interweaves flashbacks to the years the woman (Kim Riedle), young girl (Naila Schuberth), and a young boy (Sammy Schrein) spent locked in a windowless house at the mercy of their male captor.
The show begins with a disturbing scenario in which the wife and her two children are cheerfully playing a game before hearing the warning indicators of the man’s return. The three run to stand in front of the door, their hands stretched out to demonstrate that they are not hiding anything. After inspecting the children’s hands, the man delivers them each a snack bar to consume. When he looks at the woman’s shaking hands, he notices a weird mark etched on her palm that he seemed to disapprove of. “You shouldn’t cry in front of the children, Lena,” he says menacingly. “You know the rules.”
However, it rapidly becomes clear that one of the series’ primary mysteries is the identity of Lena. The truth about Lena’s past and her relationship with the two children is gradually exposed as the series unfolds and delves into the anguish at its heart. It’s a plot that blends aspects from a number of well-known thrillers, like 2014’s Gone Girl and 2015’s Room (both of which were adapted from novels), but with its own unnerving twists and turns.
“These are all damaged characters: people who have been severely scarred by a crime and deal with it very differently,” co-writer and co-director Julian Pörksen told Netflix’s Die Woche. That is not the case for us. There is also a main character who is exceptional in every manner. “A girl with a unique perspective on the world, a unique way of speaking, thinking, and experiencing.”
According to co-producer Friederich Oetker, Dear Child is particularly interested in addressing the internal suffering caused by terrible experiences. “I found the motif of the inner and outer prison particularly interesting: Even if you manage to escape, you take your inner prison with you,” he told the streaming service. “You have to free yourself from it.”
Dear Child has received an 86% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes since its release on Netflix on September 7 and has risen to the top of FlixPatrol’s list of the most popular Netflix series worldwide. Some fans have even resorted to social media to encourage others to watch the show, with one X user praising it as “one of the best binges I’ve had in years” and another as “a must-watch if you’re into psychological thriller and murder mysteries.”