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Baby Reindeer review: Richard Gadd’s account of being a victim of stalking and abuse is dark but striking

Baby Reindeer is based on Richard Gadd's personal experience of being stalked by a middle-aged woman

Baby Reindeer review: Richard Gadd’s account of being a victim of stalking and abuse is dark but striking

Richard Gadd in the biographical series, Baby Reindeer

Last Updated: 12.50 PM, Apr 23, 2024


Baby Reindeer story: Struggling comedian Donny Dunn (Richard Gadd), works at a pub in the UK to make ends meet. A chance encounter with Martha (Jessica Gunning), a lawyer who spends long hours at this pub, and strikes up a friendship with Donny, then spins out of control, as she becomes obsessed with him and begins harassing him and everyone in his immediate circle. Donny takes his sweet time to finally report Martha, a serial offender, who’d served a jail sentence in an earlier case of stalking and harassment, to the police. But her ‘experience’ in this field meant that Martha was able to turn the tables on Donny for a while.

Baby Reindeer review: Imagine being in a dire situation, but are not able to get the help you seek because the ones who should offer assistance don’t get the gravity of it, even though a serial offender is at the centre of the problem. Well, that was pretty much comedian Richard Gadd’s dilemma when he was being stalked and harassed by a middle-aged woman for nearly two years. In person and email confrontations were not enough for the police to go on initially and at one point it even seemed that Richard would be at the centre of the investigation and not his stalker.


This harrowing experience is what Richard has used the source material of the 7-episodes of Baby Reindeer that are now streaming on Netflix. And while this ordeal is at the centre of the narrative, Baby Reindeer is also about the protagonist finally being able to confront his demons – the trauma of having been groomed and sexually abused by an older man, confusions about his sexuality and the inability to fully invest in relationships, but, most importantly, the realization that he may have encouraged his stalker’s behaviour.

When Richard, as Donny, continues to indulge Martha (Jessica Gunning), despite the scary results thrown up on an internet search about her, or returns to the abode of his abuser, it makes you wonder about his intentions. Why was he so desperate for validation from these two individuals? He bares his soul and admits that as much as he wanted to distance himself from Martha, he also liked how she made him feel about himself.

It’s a biographical tale about torment, so, it’s a wonder that Richard conjures up such an intensely soul-baring outing as Donny. Jessica Gunning, as Martha, is equal measure endearing and mad, yet manages to evoke sympathy when she explains why she’s nicknamed Donny Baby Reindeer.

Baby reindeer verdict: Baby Reindeer is not for the faint of heart. It is gripping, with an uneasy air about it, and, quite literally, a tough watch because of its dark subject. But that’s the beauty of it and why you should give it a watch.


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