Baby Reindeer

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Baby Reindeer
Promotional poster
Genre
Created byRichard Gadd
Based onBaby Reindeer
by Richard Gadd
Written byRichard Gadd
Directed by
Starring
Music by
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes7
Production
Executive producers
  • Richard Gadd
  • Wim De Greef
  • Petra Fried
  • Matt Jarvis
  • Ed Macdonald
ProducerMatthew Mulot
Production locations
Running time27–45 minutes
Production companyClerkenwell Films
Original release
NetworkNetflix
Release11 April 2024 (2024-04-11)

Baby Reindeer is a British black comedy[1][2] drama-thriller television miniseries created by and starring Richard Gadd, adapted from Gadd's autobiographical one-man show. Directed by Weronika Tofilska and Josephine Bornebusch, it also stars Jessica Gunning, Nava Mau and Tom Goodman-Hill.

The series consists of seven episodes, which all simultaneously premiered on Netflix on 11 April 2024. It received critical acclaim and has had strong viewership on the platform.

Plot

Aspiring comedian Donny Dunn works as a bartender in a London pub. He offers a cup of tea to a customer, Martha, to cheer her up. Martha develops a strong attachment to Donny and starts coming to the bar every day and harassing him online. She attends his shows and harasses his girlfriend, Teri, while also sending a stream of voicemails.

Years earlier, Donny enters into a relationship with TV writer Darrien O'Connor, who offers him career advice, promises opportunities, and supplies him with drugs. Darrien repeatedly sexually assaults and rapes Donny during drug-induced blackouts. At some point, they cease seeing each other for years.

Back in the present, Donny reports Martha to the police and she is arrested, charged, and sentenced, and she spends nine months in prison. Darrien and Donny meet again and Darrien suggests a renewal of their collaboration. Donny reluctantly agrees.

Cast and characters

Main

Recurring

Guest

  • Tom Durant Pritchard as Jason, host of a comedy competition
  • Laura Smyth as Glenda, M.C. of the comedy competition
  • Will Hislop as Billy, a fellow comedian
  • Amanda Root as Elle, Donny's mother
  • Mark Lewis Jones as Gerry, Donny's father
  • Hugh Coles as Francis, Donny's friend from drama school
  • Josh Finan as Diggsy, a new employee at the pub
  • Alexandria Riley as Detective Culver, the detective assigned to Donny's case

Episodes

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"Episode 1"Weronika TofilskaRichard Gadd11 April 2024 (2024-04-11)
In 2015, while working at a pub in London, struggling comedian Donny Dunn gives a free cup of tea to a distraught customer. The customer, Martha Scott, becomes a regular, claiming she is a wealthy lawyer and entertaining Donny with stories. She becomes increasingly flirtatious, calling him "Baby Reindeer" and other nicknames. She begins emailing him hundreds of times a day, making him uncomfortable. He reluctantly takes her for coffee but is disturbed when Martha has a public outburst. He follows her home, discovering she lives in a cluttered apartment on a council estate, and flees after she notices him. Martha views this as a development in their relationship. She shows up uninvited to Donny's performance at a local comedy competition, and her interruptions help him secure a position in the semi-finals. She confesses her love to Donny, has another outburst when he tries to reject her politely, and sends him a friend request on Facebook. Donny discovers that she is a convicted stalker. He nevertheless accepts her friend request.
2"Episode 2"Weronika TofilskaRichard Gadd11 April 2024 (2024-04-11)
Donny has secretly been dating Teri, an American transgender therapist. Despite seeking out a trans partner, Donny is ashamed of his feelings and has told Teri he is a builder named Tony. Martha's stalking intensifies. She leaves comments on every photo on Donny's Facebook profile and jealously sends harassing messages to his ex-girlfriend Keeley, whose mother, Liz, is Donny's landlady. Martha also begins to follow him home after his shifts at the pub. Teri encourages Donny to go to the police, but he refuses, believing Martha is harmless. He attempts to get his co-workers to ban her from the pub, but one of them sends her a reply from Donny's account asking for anal sex as a joke, leading her to believe he returns her feelings. Donny has a successful date with Teri while high on cocaine, but when Teri asks Donny to kiss her in public, he panics and abandons her on the Underground. As he walks home, Martha follows him, pushes him against a wall, and gropes his crotch.
3"Episode 3"Weronika TofilskaRichard Gadd11 April 2024 (2024-04-11)
Donny confesses his actions and real name to Teri, who angrily asks him to leave. Martha befriends Liz under a false name, leaving a scantily clad photo of herself in Donny's bedroom. Donny threatens her with the police, and she disappears from his home and work, only to appear as a permanent fixture at a bus stop across from his home. Donny becomes sympathetic to Martha as she lapses into a fugue state but asks her to leave him alone, framing it as a breakup in an attempt to give her closure. Martha's contact with Donny briefly ceases. Teri attends the comedy semi-finals, interested in giving Donny a second chance. His performance is interrupted when Martha begins heckling him from the audience, escalating to a violent rage when he mocks her from the stage. She is thrown out but later tries to break into his dressing room before pursuing him and Teri. Donny and Teri agree to resume their relationship. Their date is interrupted when an enraged Martha assaults Teri, pulling out a chunk of her hair.
4"Episode 4"Weronika TofilskaRichard Gadd11 April 2024 (2024-04-11)
Six months later, Donny attempts to report Martha to the police. When the officer asks him why it took him so long to report her, he flashes back to a few years earlier. As a young comedian in Edinburgh, he has a chance encounter with Darrien, the writer of a successful television show, who has worked with Donny's comedy idols. Darrien mentors him and encourages him to move to London before suddenly disappearing from his life. Donny moves to Oxford and attends drama school, where he meets and moves in with Keeley. He receives a call from Darrien and begins writing a television pilot under his guidance. Not realising Darrien is grooming him, Donny regularly spends weekend-long "working sessions" at Darrien's apartment. Darrien encourages Donny to do drugs and sexually assaults him while he is high. Eventually, Darrien rapes Donny while he is on MDMA and GHB. Donny finally leaves Darrien, but his relationship with Keeley deteriorates. Feeling confused and angry, Donny subjects himself to reckless sexual encounters with multiple partners of all genders. In the present, due to his guilt over Darrien's assault and never reporting him, Donny fails to give the police an accurate report of Martha's stalking.
5"Episode 5"Josephine BornebuschRichard Gadd11 April 2024 (2024-04-11)
Martha is banned from Donny's pub after causing a scene while he works. After she assaults Keeley on the street, Liz asks Donny to move out. He moves into a flat with friends from drama school but is dismayed to learn that they spend every night throwing drug-fuelled parties. He spends increasing time with Teri, hiding in her flat and coming out to her as bisexual for the first time. Their relationship begins to suffer due to her trauma over Martha's attack and his inability to maintain an erection, caused by his trauma from Martha and Darrien. Teri convinces him to report Martha again. At the station, he finally gets an officer to look up Martha. After realising she has prior convictions, the police take the case seriously. Martha complies with the police and ceases contact with Donny. However, he finds himself obsessing over her and even masturbating to her image. This helps him successfully have sex with Teri, and their relationship improves. His mother leaves a frantic voicemail, having been told by Martha that Donny is in hospital after an accident.
6"Episode 6"Josephine BornebuschRichard Gadd11 April 2024 (2024-04-11)

Donny is horrified to realise Martha has begun harassing his parents and has accused his father of being a paedophile, getting him in trouble at work. After the police are unhelpful, Donny tries to entrap Martha into violating no-contact. However, Martha has been recording all their interactions, and he is cautioned by the police. As a result, Teri breaks up with him. The day before Donny is set to perform in the comedy competition finals, Martha returns to Donny's pub to harass him. When he brings up her previous stalking charges, she attacks him, smashing a glass into his face. His co-workers convince Donny not to press charges, which would reveal their mismanagement of the pub, and he complies. At the competition, Donny gives up on his act after a joke does not land and instead breaks down on stage, confessing to the audience in frank detail his guilt, shame, and self-hatred after his rape, stalking, and his poor management of his relationship with Teri, before walking out of the theatre.


The episode is dedicated to the memory of Llewellyn Harrison, who worked as a key grip on Baby Reindeer.[3]
7"Episode 7"Josephine BornebuschRichard Gadd11 April 2024 (2024-04-11)
A video of Donny's confession goes viral, significantly boosting his career. Martha finds his phone number and leaves him hundreds of voicemails. When she threatens to tell his parents about his rape and sexuality, he travels to Fife, Scotland, and tells his parents everything. His father reveals that he, too, was sexually abused. After Martha leaves a voicemail threatening to stab his parents, he finally reports her, and she is arrested. Martha is sentenced to nine months in prison and five years of probation. Donny quits comedy and, at Keeley's urging, moves back into Liz's house. Upon finding the screenplay he was writing for Darrien, Donny visits Darrien but fails to confront him. Darrien, who has seen Donny's video, offers him a writing job. Donny accepts but has a panic attack afterwards. Stopping at a pub, he listens to a voicemail where Martha explains that she calls him "Baby Reindeer" because he reminds her of a stuffed animal she would hug when her parents fought during her childhood. Donny breaks down in tears and orders a drink but realises he has forgotten his wallet. Sympathetic, the barman gives Donny the drink for free, mirroring his first encounter with Martha.

Production

Development and casting

Nava Mau

The series was announced in December 2020, with Richard Gadd set to write the series and star. Clerkenwell Films was set to produce.[4] Weronika Tofilska was added as the director in August 2022,[5] with Josephine Bornebusch announced as an additional director in March 2023.[6] Richard Gadd was cast alongside the series announcement.[4] Jessica Gunning was cast on 26 August 2022.[5] Nava Mau was announced as a cast member in March 2023.[6]

Filming

The Stag's Head, Hoxton served as the exterior of the Heart pub

Filming began in mid-August 2022 in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh,[7][5] and continued in London in September.[8]

Among the filming locations in London were the Stag’s Head pub in Hoxton, which was used for exterior scenes at the Heart pub, the Regent's Canal in Haggerston, and the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Donny's stand-up comedy shows were filmed at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, the Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley and The Comedy Store in Leicester Square. Darrien’s apartment was filmed inside Marsham Court in Victoria. In Edinburgh, the Hoppy pub in Meadowbank, Edinburgh served as the exterior of the Festival Fringe venue for Donny's comedy show (interior scenes were filmed in the Army & Navy pub in Stoke Newington, London). Other exterior locations are the Royal Mile and the Grassmarket, where Donny is shown walking along the street amid festival activities.[9]

Filming wrapped by early March 2023.[6]

Themes and analysis

Baby Reindeer is a black comedy[10][11] drama-thriller about sexual assault and stalking. One aspect that the show explores is how harassed men or sexually assaulted men rarely come forward and female stalkers are often treated as less dangerous. In the beginning, Donny treats Martha more like a nuisance rather than a danger. When he finally reports Martha to the police, the officer is dismissive. Even the coworkers at the bar see Martha as a source of amusement instead of a threat, with one coworker even sending her a suggestive email from Donny's account that sought to encourage her advances, and made Donny less believable as a victim to the police. [12]

Baby Reindeer explores many themes, including the psychology of abuse and the idea that "hurt people hurt people", that those that have suffered trauma and have not properly dealt with it will ultimately perpetuate unhealthy cycles and harm those near to them. Martha, having suffered a terrible childhood, stalks, threatens, and ultimately assaults Donny and those close to him. Donny, having never properly dealt with his earlier rape at the hands of a trusted mentor, sabotages his romantic relationships and at times encourages or tolerates Martha's fixation on him because it makes him feel successful and loved. Donny's therapist girlfriend, Teri, rightly identifies that the reason Donny never reported Martha after months of stalking is because her attention is a balm for his wounded ego. Donny is a struggling comedian, but Martha sees him the way he wishes the world did: handsome, funny, clever, lovable. Donny ultimately acknowledges that Martha can see a mutual wounded-ness in him due to his past abuse, and it is a contributing reason why she fixates on him. Donny's refusal to acknowledge his role in perpetuating the unhealthy cycle with Martha leads Teri to end her relationship with him.[13]

Another theme explored in the show is sexuality, and when queerness conflicts with heteronormative cultures and expectations. Donny creates a fake persona to meet trans women on a dating site, leading him to begin a romantic relationship with Teri under false pretences. He is terrified someone he knows will see him on a date with a trans person. Donny feels guilt and shame over the abuse he has received, and feels both self-loathing and desire in pursuing trans women and cis men. Like many victims of sexual abuse, Donny at times vacillates between hypersexual activity and promiscuity (he is shown to have anonymous sex with many people of different genders) and avoiding sex and being touched all together when he is in a relationship with Keeley or Teri. He begins to sexualize the positive attention he receives from Martha by fantasizing about her during masturbation.[14]

The challenges of being queer in society is explored through Teri's character. Martha often acts as a mouthpiece for the worst views of society and voices the fears of many characters. When angered or directly rejected, Martha says things that are perceptive and clearly meant to hurt people in a way that touches on their insecurities. In the bar after the comedy show, Martha makes comments that are homophobic, xenophobic, or transphobic, and when she screams that Teri "looks like a man", Teri is deeply hurt. This is a devastating comment for a person who has struggled and overcome a great deal in order to reach a level of self-acceptance in a world that is often hetero and cisnormative and transphobic.[15]

Donny's abuse at the hands of an older male mentor also brings to the fore his bisexuality, something he has not come to terms with yet. When Martha threatens to tell Donny's parents about his rape and sexuality, Donny travels to Scotland to preemptively tell them about the contents of the published video. His parents are surprisingly supportive, both of what has happened to him and his past relationship with and current romantic interest in Teri, a trans woman. Donny's father shares that he is also a victim of rape and hugs and comforts his son. Having been accepted and supported by his parents, Donny is able to achieve a type of personal peace that he has not enjoyed for years.[16]

Release

All seven episodes were simultaneously released on Netflix on 11 April 2024.[17]

Reception

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 98% of 58 critics gave the series a positive review, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The website's consensus reads: "A bracing work of autofiction by creator and star Richard Gadd, Baby Reindeer can be a punishing watch but richly rewards viewers with its emotional complexity and excellent performances."[18] On Metacritic, the series holds a weighted average score of 88 out of 100 based on 17 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[19]

Harry Brocklehurst of The Tab, describing the show as "darkly funny, deeply unsettling and very moving", criticised fans of the show, branding them "vile", for attempting to expose the real woman the character "Martha" is based on and speculating which social media accounts might belong to the real person.[20]

Audience viewership

Baby Reindeer debuted at number five on Netflix's Top 10 TV English titles for the tracking week of 8–14 April 2024, with 10.4 million hours viewed.[21] On the following week, it climbed to number one and garnered 52.8 million viewing hours.[22] The series remained at the same position for its third and fourth weeks, earning 87.4 and 73.6 million viewing hours.[23][24]

Awards and nominations

Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Gotham TV Awards June 4, 2024 Breakthrough Limited Series Baby Reindeer Pending [25]
Outstanding Performance in a Limited Series Richard Gadd Pending

Real-life inspiration

Speculation about the real-life inspirations for the show's fictional characters began to emerge online, as fans attempted to deduce their identities on social media. Gadd asked fans to stop any kind of speculation in an April 2024 statement.[26] After being falsely accused of being the real-life counterpart to the character Darrien, theatre director Sean Foley reported the false allegations to the police.[27] This led to a police investigation.[27] Gadd confirmed that Foley was not behind the character Darrien.[26]

On 8 May 2024, Fiona Harvey came forward with a claim as the "real Martha", announced via the Twitter account of Piers Morgan, a day ahead of an interview with him on his online show Piers Morgan Uncensored.[28] During her interview, Harvey admitted she had met Gadd several times at The Hawley Arms, Camden, but denied sending him 41,000 emails or going to his home. She admitted to sending up to 10 emails and a letter as well as several tweets. It also emerged that Harvey had briefly been employed at a law firm owned by Laura Wray, widow of the former Labour MP Jimmy Wray, and their association had been problematic.[29] Harvey claimed in the interview, "I don't lie" and that the public should "judge for yourselves". She threatened to sue both Gadd and Netflix.[30] The interview drew some criticism, questioning the ethics behind the decision.[31] She later claimed she was paid £250 to appear, and that the interview left her feeling "a bit used".[32]

References

  1. ^ Donaldson, Kayleigh (24 April 2024). "Baby Reindeer: Netflix's True Crime Disease Poisons the Show". TheWrap. Archived from the original on 25 April 2024. Retrieved 25 April 2024.
  2. ^ Billington, Alex (22 March 2024). "Netflix Trailer for 'Baby Reindeer' Awkward Stalker Dark Comedy Series". FirstShowing.net. Archived from the original on 29 March 2024. Retrieved 25 April 2024.
  3. ^ Venn, Lydia (18 April 2024). "Who was Llewellyn Harrison, whom Baby Reindeer is dedicated to?". Cosmopolitan. Archived from the original on 22 April 2024. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
  4. ^ a b Ravindran, Manori (13 December 2020). "Netflix Unveils New U.K. Projects With Sam Mendes, Rowan Atkinson, Andy Serkis". Variety. Archived from the original on 14 November 2021. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  5. ^ a b c Whittock, Jesse (26 August 2022). "'Pride' & 'Back' Actress Jessica Gunning Cast Opposite Richard Gadd In Netflix's 'Baby Reindeer'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 8 October 2022. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  6. ^ a b c Whittock, Jesse (3 March 2023). "'Baby Reindeer': Nava Mau Cast In Netflix Drama From Richard Gadd". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 28 March 2023. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  7. ^ Carrell, Severin (23 August 2022). "Edinburgh faces rat surge due to refuse workers' strike, warn heritage leaders". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 October 2022. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  8. ^ "Now Filming in London: September 2022". Film London. 7 September 2022. Archived from the original on 4 November 2022. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  9. ^ Semlyen, Phil de (25 April 2024). "Where was 'Baby Reindeer' filmed? All the filming locations from the Netflix drama". Time Out. Archived from the original on 7 May 2024. Retrieved 18 May 2024.
  10. ^ Donaldson, Kayleigh (24 April 2024). "Baby Reindeer: Netflix's True Crime Disease Poisons the Show". TheWrap. Archived from the original on 25 April 2024. Retrieved 25 April 2024.
  11. ^ Billington, Alex (22 March 2024). "Netflix Trailer for 'Baby Reindeer' Awkward Stalker Dark Comedy Series". FirstShowing.net. Archived from the original on 29 March 2024. Retrieved 25 April 2024.
  12. ^ Kang, Inkoo (13 May 2024). ""Baby Reindeer" and "Under the Bridge" Are Stranger Than Fiction". The New Yorker. Retrieved 14 May 2024.
  13. ^ "Netflix's Baby Reindeer dares you not to look away". The A.V. Club. 25 April 2024. Retrieved 13 May 2024.
  14. ^ Oliver, David. "'Baby Reindeer' shines light on complicated aspects of sexual abuse". USA TODAY. Retrieved 13 May 2024.
  15. ^ Betancourt, Manuel (10 May 2024). "Nava Mau Brought the 'Teri Fire' to Baby Reindeer". Vulture. Retrieved 13 May 2024.
  16. ^ Oliver, David. "'Baby Reindeer' shines light on complicated aspects of sexual abuse". USA TODAY. Retrieved 13 May 2024.
  17. ^ Hudspeth, Christopher. "What Is Baby Reindeer? The True Story and New Series Explained". Netflix Tudum. Archived from the original on 11 April 2024. Retrieved 11 April 2024.
  18. ^ "Baby Reindeer: Limited Series". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 23 April 2024. Retrieved 20 May 2024.
  19. ^ "Baby Reindeer: Season 1". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved 20 May 2024.
  20. ^ Brocklehurst, Harrison (22 April 2024). "People think they've found the real Martha from Baby Reindeer laughing in a stand-up video". The Tab. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
  21. ^ "Netflix Global Top 10". Netflix. 14 April 2024. Retrieved 30 April 2024.
  22. ^ "Netflix Global Top 10". Netflix. 21 April 2024. Retrieved 30 April 2024.
  23. ^ "Netflix Global Top 10". Netflix. 28 April 2024. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  24. ^ "Netflix Global Top 10". Netflix. 5 May 2024. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  25. ^ Verhoeven, Beatrice (14 May 2024). "'Baby Reindeer,' 'The Curse,' 'Shogun' Among Inaugural Gotham TV Awards Nominees". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  26. ^ a b Guy, Zoe (23 April 2024). "Baby Reindeer Creator Asks Fans to Stop Looking for Real-Life Characters". Vulture. Archived from the original on 24 April 2024. Retrieved 25 April 2024.
  27. ^ a b McLoughlin, Lisa (24 April 2024). "Baby Reindeer prompts police investigation after false accusations". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 23 April 2024. Retrieved 25 April 2024.
  28. ^ Lammers, Tim. "'Baby Reindeer': Real 'Martha' Reveals Identity In Photo With Piers Morgan". Forbes. Retrieved 8 May 2024.
  29. ^ Martin, Laura (14 May 2024). "The Baby Reindeer fallout: What will happen next in 2024's biggest TV controversy?". www.bbc.com. Archived from the original on 14 May 2024. Retrieved 15 May 2024.
  30. ^ "Richard Gadd is PSYCHOTIC" Baby Reindeer's 'Real' Martha Fiona Harvey. Retrieved 9 May 2024 – via YouTube.
  31. ^ Butler, Alexander (10 May 2024). "Viewers horrified by Piers Morgan's 'excruciating' 'unethical' interview with real-life Baby Reindeer Martha". The Independent. Retrieved 13 May 2024.
  32. ^ Jacobs, Eammon (9 May 2024). "The woman outed as the alleged 'Baby Reindeer' stalker says she felt 'used' in Piers Morgan interview, where she denied harassing Richard Gadd and called him 'psychotic'". Business Insider. Retrieved 13 May 2024.

External links