The Nest review: Gripping surrogacy drama set to explore class tensions
Just because you are from somewhere, doesn’t mean you forgive other people that are
Emily (Sophie Rundle) looks like she has everything: Acai berry smoothies, cashmere jumpers, a penchant for cold-water swimming, a loving husband, a bouncy blow-dry and a passion project as a music conductor for a children’s orchestra in Glasgow’s local community. But inside her is a gaping hole. She wants a baby. She has done for years.
When she meets troubled 18-year-old Kaya (Mirren Mack), who accidentally steps in front of her car and injures her leg, it seems the would-be Waitrose magazine cover girl might be about to get what she wants. The teenager volunteers to be a surrogate. But will she go through with it, or is there a price to being able to buy anything you want? An exploration of love and money, Bafta-winning Nicole Taylor’s five-part emotional thriller The Nest investigates who Kaya really is, and what brought her to the couple.
Pregnancy tests and multivitamins abound, and it’s not long before Emily is acting as though she’s purchased the Aga of baby carrying. But her husband Dan (Martin Compston), who like Katya grew up in the grey high rises of inner-city Glasgow, is far more suspicious of the would-be surrogate’s upbringing than his wife. His nose crinkles with disgust every time he’s close to her, as though smelling her, as though disgusted by the thought of his genes held hostage inside of her body. Leaving the door open when he turns up at Kaya’s flat, he quizzes: “Any criminal convictions?” and “Why were you taken into care?”. Just because you are from somewhere, doesn’t mean you forgive other people that are.
Dan’s I-made-it-so-why-can’t-you? Alan Sugar attitude isn’t the only fraught class dynamic the episode knuckles into. Though more than willing to give Kaya £50,000 for electing to endure nine months of sleepless nights and vomiting, Emily forever looks embarrassed when handing over her wages. She’s always hiding notes under light fittings or shuffling it into pockets. Physical money lays inequality bare in a way that numbers dotted on an online banking home screen never could. Then there’s the way Dan acquiesces to Emily’s decisions, as though forever indebted to her for finding him attractive despite the environment he grew up in. “I still don’t think you can believe she actually married you,” says his sister.
You know that Dan and Emily’s nuclear family is going to go wrong. Money might be able to buy you anything – even love – but it always gets people into trouble. Kaya’s claim of a clear criminal record comes undone when someone she knows asks about the time she was in jail. Suspicious men in leather coats track her movements. She says all the right things, so much that they start to sound too right. You can’t help but think Kaya knew way in advance that this homemade kimchi-making power couple were vulnerable enough to let her carry their baby.
It would be interesting if The Nest was a story of how rich people’s suspicion of the working classes causes them to tear each other apart, one tray of roasted asparagus at a time. But at the moment, it feels as though it might be another morality tale about why not to trust someone from a council estate. Either way, The Nest is not as cosy as it sounds. I’m excited to watch the characters try to flee it.