The Reel Review


Brooke Shields explores her lifelong quest for independence in this two-part Hulu docuseries tracing her highly sexualized childhood under the micromanagement of an alcoholic mother – as the world’s first successful child model and later, controversial child actress, Brooke’s surprise decision to suspend her acting career to pursue a college degree at Princeton, and later, her struggle to resume her career and create a happy personal life.

Brooke Shields in 1977’s Pretty Baby in Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields

With the lives of so many child stars ending in tragedy, it is a testament to Shields’ tireless work ethic and her down to earth, honest approach to life that she not only is living, but actually thriving. Writer/director Lana Wilson (Taylor Swift: Miss Americana) blends fascinating archival footage, clips from Pretty Baby, Blue Lagoon and Endless Love, and some shockingly insensitive and downright offensive interviews, to illustrate the toxic misogyny that existed in the late 1970s and 80s.

Childhood friends Laura Linney and Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields

Recent interviews with Shields and her childhood friends Laura Linney, Drew Barrymore and filmmaker Lyda Ely show us a sweet, delightfully dorky young girl who – despite her intelligence – was still too young to understand the furor about her sexualization – and was forced to compartmentalize to survive.

Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields

Shields puts it all out in the open: her friendship with Michael Jackson, losing her virginity in college to first love Dean Cain, her bombshell reveal of being raped by an unnamed entertainment industry executive shortly after she finished college, her brief, rocky marriage to tennis star Andre Agassi and following the start of her current, 22-year marriage to television writer Chris Henchy, her feud with Scientologist Tom Cruise over her use of medication to battle severe postpartum depression.

Brooke Shields and mother Teri Shields

One of the most shocking elements in the series is the fact that photographer Garry Gross, a former family friend, was allowed to publish sexually provocative, nude photos of a 10-year-old Shields without recourse. Even so, the docuseries is thorough without being salacious, giving us a snapshot of Brooke Shields of today who is comfortable in her own skin, and dedicated to making sure her two teenage daughters have the well-adjusted youth that she was denied.


Diana Scarwid, Susan Sarandon, Keith Carradine and Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby

• Despite its controversial subject matter and onscreen full-frontal nudity of a then 12-year-old Shields, 1978’s Pretty Baby, about a child prostitute in 1917 New Orleans, was nominated for the top prize, the Palme D’Or, at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Technical Grand Prize.

• In 1980, a then 14-year-old Brooke Shields became the youngest fashion model to be on the cover of Vogue magazine.

• In 1983, New York’s highest court dismissed Shields’ 1981 lawsuit against fashion photographer Garry Gross, who had gotten the consent of Brooke’s mother Teri to take the nude photos of a ten-year-old Brooke in 1975 for publication in the Playboy publication ‘Sugar ‘n’ Spice.’ Gross, who in later years specialized in dog portraits, died from a heart attack at his home in New York’s Greenwich Village in 2010 at the age of 73.



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