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The Innocents creators explain exactly HOW shapeshifting works in the Netflix show

The Innocents (opens in new tab) has been on Netflix for a couple of weeks now, and it's proven a hit among viewers. The show follows a couple of teenagers - June and Harry - who escape their dreary, caged lives together in the north of England... only to discover that June is actually a shapeshifter. It's a supernatural romance with plenty of young adult themes, and a handful of weighty philosophical questions. One of which focuses on the consequences of assuming someone else's identity and feeling their emotions and thoughts. Spoilers for The Innocents follow.

About half way through the show June accidentally shifts into the form of a nurse, attending her in a London hospital. When June shifts she does so by touching another person when she's scared, and this also results in the original person being put into a non-responsive state (a coma, essentially). We've seen her do it a couple of times before but... the nurse is pregnant. And June assumes her form, with the baby still inside her. So, um, how does that actually work? I asked the creators of the show Hania Elkington and Simon Duric to explain.

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"You take on a person's physical form when you shift, as it is at that moment. And a baby is a very physical thing - it's part of the biology of that woman," explains Duric. Ok. Elkington adds: "In the same way that the physical body of nurse Deborah is in two places at the same time, and then it goes and there's one of them, the same is true of the baby." So, there were two identical babies, and when June left the body of Deborah, her baby ceased to exist. That's pretty dark.

"The reason we decided to make that a point is because we wanted to really fix in on the emotional experience of that pregnancy for June," continues Elkington. It certainly adds an interesting extra dimension to the shifting, and makes the viewer question the nature of what's happening and how morally tricky it is to assume someone's form in such a physical way.

Elsewhere in the interview Elkington and Duric discuss whether or not the secret love between June and Harry was inspired by personal experiences, what it's like to work with Netflix on a new show, and what they hope young people will take away from characters like June and Harry. All eight episodes of The Innocents are available to stream on Netflix now (opens in new tab), globally.

Andy Hartup
Andy Hartup