Netflix’s “Dear Child” starts with heart-racing suspense, but your heartbeat slows as the mystery drags to a disappointing ending.

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“Dear Child” General Information

Created By Isabel Kleefeld
Release Date (Netflix) September 7, 2023
Genre(s) Drama



Non-English (German)

Noted Characters
Lena Kim Riedle
Hannah Naila Schuberth
Matthias Beck Justus Von Dohnányi
Kerin Beck Julika Jenkins
Gerd Bühling Hans Löw
Aida Kurt Haley Louise Jones

Plot Summary

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“Dear Child” begins with an unsettling story about Lena (Kim Riedle), a woman held captive with two children in a highly secured home. While the children, Hannah (Naila Schuberth) and Jonathan (Sammy Schrein), seem to have fun in their bunker house, Lena is visibly fearful of “Papa,” who keeps them locked inside. Papa has many rules about when they can eat, sleep, play and how to greet him. He’s especially strict with Lena and beats her if she does not follow the rules.

One day, Lena is able to escape with one of the children, Hannah, but Lena suffers a near-fatal car accident in the process. When police find Lena and Hannah, investigators question how the two arrived in the forest.

Meanwhile, Matthias (Justus Von Dohnányi) and Kerin Beck (Julika Jenkins) receive a call from their friend and detective, Gerd Bühling (Hans Löw). Gerd informs the older couple that a woman has been found who calls herself Lena, the same name as their daughter, who went missing years ago.

When Matthias and Kerin arrive at the hospital to confirm the identity of their missing daughter, the mystery only deepens. This Lena is not their daughter, but Hannah looks uncannily like their daughter when she was younger. Why is this woman calling herself Lena? Why does Hannah look like Lena? Who abducted this woman, and why? These are questions that slowly reveal chilling answers throughout “Dear Child.”

Dear Child
Lena (Kim Riedle), Hannah (Naila Schuberth), and Jonathan (Sammy Schrein) prepare themselves for “Papa” in Netflix’s “Dear Child” (2023)

Netflix’s “Dear Child” is based on Romy Hausmann’s book of the same name. The German-language series is grim and grows in its despair as it slowly reveals the details of a woman’s abduction. The major problem is that, in an era of countless murder and missing person mysteries, “Dear Child” offers few twists or insights into its murder and mystery.

At six episodes, “Dear Child” feels stretched thin and could have possibly made a better movie than a show. While the story concludes by the end of episode 6, viewers may still be scratching their heads and wanting to know more.


Our Rating: Mixed (Stick Around)

Who Is This For?

Fans of missing person mysteries, murder mysteries, and psychological thrillers may all potentially enjoy “Dear Child.”

Notable Performances, Moments, or Episodes

The most promising and thrilling episode is the first episode, “Hannah,” a well-paced story that slowly reveals more information while setting up more questions too.


A Promising First Episode and Premise

“Dear Child” starts strong. The show indulges in throwing the viewers into an unsettling situation as an anonymous, towering figure stands over Lena, Hannah, and Jonathan as they reveal their empty hands. As Lena escapes, we know there is so much to fear and still discover. Just as we think we know where the plot is going, “Dear Child” delivers the last-minute twist of Lena not being the parents’ child. The cliffhanger is a classic television trope that leaves the audience wanting more.

Dear Child 8
Haley Louise Jones as Aida Kurt on the set of Liebes Kind, Courtesy of Netflix 2023

Low Points

Characters Go in Circles for Full Episodes

Unfortunately, most of the characters spend each episode repeating themselves, with little that moves the plot forward and little that provides insight about these characters. Who was the real Lena, and who was the fake Lena? What led to Kerin’s affair with Gerd? Why did we need both Gerd and Aida as detectives? The show mostly forgets about Jonathan and focuses on Hannah, but why is Hannah more devoted to her father than Jonathan?

“Dear Child” ends with closure for each character but doesn’t really show the journey the characters had to make for that change to happen.

On The Fence

Papa’s Intentions and Behaviors Unclear

“Dear Child” hides the identity of who “Papa” is until the very end, signifying Papa’s identity as the main mystery. While they reveal “Papa” and somewhat explain his initial obsession with Lena, his strict schedule, need for control, and ability to lace an area with bombs remain mysteries. Some may argue that the mystery makes him frightening, but the villain’s most intriguing and creepy parts are left unexplored. Then, just as we learn more about him, he’s quickly murdered.

What I Hope To See

“Dear Child” seems like a standalone series, but if they were to make an anthology, they should expand by exploring more characters’ mental states.

Dear Child 1


If you like this show, we recommend:

  1. Room
  2. Gone Girl
  3. The Vigilante 

Check out our TV-Series page for our latest recaps and reviews, as well as recommendations.


Has “Dear Child” Been Renewed For Another Season?

As of this writing, “Dear Child” has not been renewed.

Dear Child poster
Dear Child (2023) – Review and Summary
At six episodes, "Dear Child" feels stretched thin and could have possibly made a better movie than a show. While the story concludes by the end of episode 6, viewers may still be scratching their heads and wanting to know more. 
A Promising First Episode and Premise
Characters Go in Circles for Full Episodes
Papa’s Intentions and Behaviors Unclear

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