Baby Reindeer

Richard Gadd's compelling tale about a stalker, based on real life, will suck you into its vortex.

Be warned.

If you partake of Baby Reindeer you will be sucked into its vortex.

The new UK drama from Netflix launched with little fanfare (and next to no publicity) but has quickly garnered word of mouth for its compelling story and riveting performances.

The fact that it is based on a true story makes it all the more gripping.

The 7 part series is written by Richard Gadd who stars as Donny Dunn, a fictionalised version of himself.

Donny is an aspiring stand-up comedian who was the victim of an obsessed stalker …and more. That he relives his own trauma for a television drama is mind-blowing, but one which he has since remarked on as a kind of therapy.

In the series, Donny works as a local barman, longing for a successful showbiz career in comedy. Bizzarely, he rents a room in the home of his ex-girlfriend’s mother while chasing his dreams. The ex-girlfriend, Keeley, is played by Aussie-UK actor Shalom Brune-Franklin, who is content with the odd arrangements having already moved out…

Into Donny’s life walks Martha (Jessica Gunning), a clingy, needing loner, who claims to be a lawyer but can’t afford a drink at his bar. Taking sympathy on her, he offers a cup of tea on the house, which is enough to ignite her interest in him. Soon she flatters him with compliments, returns daily, nicknaming him Baby Reindeer and openly flirting with him in his workplace.

To say that her interest escalates is an understatement…. Donny is soon subjected to endless (misspelled) emails waxing lyrical about a fantasy romance, to which our nice guy hero seems incapable of shutting down. Worse is to come when Martha turns jealous, hysterical, aggressive, unhinged by the slightest hint of rejection or another woman.

Donny tumbles down a rabbit hole of fears and paranoia, lacking the skills to take control of the situation, even when it jeopardises his local stand-up opportunities and a new relationship with Teri (Nava Mau).

There are also flashbacks which help fill in some of the gaps to help explain why Donny is so helpless at ending the ‘relationship’ with Martha -indeed Gadd’s script is candid in asking whether he encouraged it, and if so, why?

Gadd is mesmerising in the role of Donny, largely for the fact that you know he has lived through this experience and found a creative way to reconcile his torment. It affords us an absorbing insight into the world of the victim. You always want Donny to free himself from Martha’s clutches yet he keeps making mistake after mistake…

Jessica Gunning is magnetic as Martha, a manic force to contend with, whose obsession and capacity are freaking scary, flipping from doey-eyed sweet-nothings to violent threats in an instant. Her performance is simply the best of its kind since Glenn Close’s bunny-boiler in 1987’s Fatal Attraction.

Baby Reindeer doesn’t just ride shotgun through the plot of a demented stalker case, it delves much deeper into the psychology of it all and asks whether both sides played a part in its behaviour. Clearly that can’t be applied to every instance of stalker and victim, but in the case of Donny / Gadd it is a deeply personal and cathartic experience he is brave to share.

Baby Reindeer is now screening on Netflix.

9 Responses

  1. I binged the whole thing today (public holiday, why not). And I was captivated. Its dark and gritty and a bit triggering at times. It’s much better than the really overhyped limited series Boy Swallows Universe.

  2. Ok I’ve watched all of this and my opinion is , it’s very average

    I find these days if a show or a movie is over hyped or getting lots of attention I’ll probably not like it

    I’ll say again I didn’t hate it but it’s not something I’ll want to have a repeat viewing of

  3. Watched 3 episodes so far
    I just find it so cliched ridden eg the frumpy plain looking overweight stalker
    It makes me want to watch Misery again
    Only interesting thing so far is his relationship with a Trans person

  4. Incredible performances and nuanced characters, a show which accurately displays how much of a fallacy the ‘perfect victim’ is and will stay with the viewer for quite some time, and imo a show with more nuance than the US could manage

    sent from my iphon.

  5. I know it’s only April, but this will surely be a contender for best show of the year. I binged all 7 episodes of it on Saturday. Episode 4 was about as powerful an episode of TV as I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Leave a Reply