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What is the plot of Netflix’s ‘Dear Child’?

Catch up on Netflix's new must-see thriller series.

Close-up shot of Hannah (Naila Schuberth) in 'Dear Child'
Image via Netflix

Netflix may have another cross-cultural streaming hit on its hands with Dear Child, a six-part German miniseries based on Romy Hausmann’s bestselling psychological thriller of same name. The novel, known as Liebes Kind in the original German, was published in 2020 and met with much acclaim from critics and readers across the globe for the story’s Gone Girl-like twists and alternating viewpoints.

Now, Netflix presents Hausmann’s story in a tightly wound, atmospheric mystery with a cast including Kim Riedle (Skylines), Hans Löw (Toni Erdmann), and Naila Schuberth (Bird Box: Barcelona). Co-writer and co-director Julian Pörksen explained why this story is special to Netflix’s Die Woche:

“These are all damaged characters: people who are severely scarred by a crime and deal with it very differently. The perpetrator is often the focus of such series and is glorified as a mysterious, dark force. That’s not the case with us. And there is a main character who is extraordinary in every way. A girl who has a special view of the world, a special way of speaking, thinking, and experiencing.”

What’s the story of Dear Child?

The plot of Dear Child begins when an unknown woman is struck by a car in the middle of the night in a German forest. Once doctors and nurses at the ER start talking to the precocious young girl who accompanied the woman in the ambulance, the mystery grows deeper — and a 13-year-old missing person case is reopened.

Investigators realize that the woman and the young girl have been isolated from the world for a long time, along with an 8-year-old boy. It’s revealed that the prisoners’ daily activities, as well as their scarce meals, were strictly scheduled by a captor who expected them to obey his every whim. One police official wonders whether the woman hit by the car is actually the missing person from long ago, and whether she’s been at the kidnapper’s mercy all this time.

A group of heavily-armed militia patrol a forest in 'Dear Child'
Image via Netflix

Of course, there are big twists in store, so don’t try to guess the ending from the synopsis alone. In fact, this might prove to be Netflix’s next big watercooler series that everyone is talking about. Or maybe we should replace “watercooler” with something else in this era of remote working. What’s German for “watercooler,” anyway? Ah, “wasserkühler.” So fun!

Sure, some may consider a subtitled show about child abduction to be a heavy lift, but that didn’t stop the German time-travel series Dark from becoming a hit, and that series basically required a flow chart to keep all the characters straight. Dear Child is far less work and far fewer episodes. So strap in.

Matt Wayt
About the author

Matt Wayt

Matt lives in Hollywood and enjoys writing about art and the business that tries to kill it. He loves Tsukamoto and Roger Rabbit, and thinks snap zooms in CG shots are tacky.