Roush Review: A Domestic Triangle Unravels in ‘The Nest’

The Nest - Sophie Rundle and Martin Compston
Acorn TV

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A well-off couple in a dream home has everything they ever wanted—except a baby. Enter an unstable young street urchin with a cloudy and possibly violent past who offers to be their surrogate, and even before the troublingly sinister complications begin to ensue, you may be wondering: “Haven’t these people ever watched Lifetime?”

Possibly not, because The Nest is set in Scotland, and the tone of this darkly compelling five-part limited series largely sidesteps cheesy melodrama for an adult, provocative study of class differences and the dangers of social engineering.

“I can change your life and you can change mine,” promises 18-year-old Kaya (Sex Education‘s Mirren Mack), who’s street-smart and tough but obviously damaged. She seizes upon the vulnerability of music teacher Emily (Bodyguard‘s Sophie Rundle), who has only one viable embryo left, to seal the deal, but has a harder time convincing Dan (Line of Duty‘s Martin Compston), a successful self-made entrepreneur. Frosty to the girl at first meeting, Dan will do anything for his needy wife, even if it means opening their stunning lakeside home to this loose cannon.

Who’s exploiting whom, the story continually asks. For her services, Kaya commands a price that defies Scotland’s strict but murky surrogacy laws. But her social worker and Dan’s medical-worker sister are more concerned about the price to Kaya’s well-being of this emotionally fraught arrangement. Though initially entranced by her cushy though temporary new life—”This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me”—Kaya soon feels trapped by Emily’s nurturing hovering and Dan’s critical gaze.

The Nest Acorn TV Cast

(Acorn TV)

It doesn’t help that each is suppressing the usual dark secrets that could erupt into scandal if they can’t find a way to get along. Harmony seems unlikely given the shifting dynamics within their fractious domestic nest of mutual distrust and suspicion, where a red herring of a murder subplot turns out to be the least of their worries.

The Nest, Season Premiere (first two episodes), Monday, July 13, Acorn TV