Baby Reindeer: Season 1
April 23, 2024 5:45 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

This Netflix series follows Donny (Richard Gadd) on a downward spiral, as he meets a lonely woman named Martha (Jessica Gunning) who morphs from friend to stalker. Donny attempts to escape the grip of Martha's obsession, while trying to navigate the lingering effects of past trauma.

The series is an adaptation of Gadd's autobiographical one-man show of the same name, based on Gadd's real-life experience of being stalked and sexually assaulted in his 20s.
posted by dianeF (27 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is a pretty good show. I googled the story behind it and came across Gadd telling viewers it’s none of their business, which makes him seem kind of dumb. Other than that, I enjoyed this.
posted by dianeF at 6:04 AM on April 23

Dan Murrell did a review of this series [10m] that is what convinced me to watch it. I don't think I would have if I hadn't seen what he had to share about it.

I'm not a Murrell stan. But I do watch his shows and know enough of his taste to know that I'd more find this interesting than not.
posted by hippybear at 4:27 PM on April 24

Also, things in this series pivot HARD in episode 4, and there are many here on MetaFilter who has said that things that happen there are a red line with them for watching or reading things. So be aware, the sexual assault mentioned in the description above is not easy to watch. But is very very informative to the story.
posted by hippybear at 6:42 PM on April 24

I have to admit, I wrote this before I watched episode 4. I don’t think I am actually ‘enjoying’ this show at the moment.
posted by dianeF at 9:10 PM on April 24

The show actually switches to a different director for the last half of the series, which makes sense because it's a real tone shift. I'm not to the end yet, but I think the whole thing is probably going to be worth it in the end.
posted by hippybear at 9:15 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]

I find myself endlessly curious what the actual one-man show was like. I feel like I can identify bits and parts of it. But they've expanded it pretty excellently generally.

I'll have to look around and see if there's a published script for the stage show.
posted by hippybear at 9:38 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]

The end of this is... really emotionally complex.
posted by hippybear at 10:13 PM on April 24 [5 favorites]

I do hope more people watch this and want to talk about it. I found it difficult but worthwhile. A very human story. I'm entirely unsure how much of the "true story" is the true story, but there's enough in there that I can't doubt there is a lot that has been lived here.

There is a published script for the stage show, and I think it's been performed by others by this point, too. It's a really interesting story.
posted by hippybear at 2:26 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]

During the first episode, cnce I realized this had been a one-person show at the Edinburgh Fringe, I really wished I could have seen that. Also because Fringe shows are only 60 minutes, so it was quite truncated!

Up until the 3rd episode, I was wondering where else the story could go, 4 more episodes. I think it's a good story because, as hippy bear says above, it was a "very human story."

It couldn't have been more real: with troubled people, troubled relationships, and then genuine coming to terms with oneself. And the ending was so much like real life, too, where nothing is 100% deemed good or bad.
posted by honey badger at 6:33 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]

Yeah, honestly what I think keeps this whole seven episodes from feeling cheap and manipulating is how entirely human it feels. There are so many bad choices that are so completely understandable. Standing outside you're shouting "no, not that" but at the same time you sit and watch and completely understand why the bad decision was chosen.

It's a really brilliant bit of writing and I hope it gets all the laudations it deserves. I've seen some UK press saying that it is one of the biggest things to happen there in the media since the Mail Fraud thing several months ago.

I am saving up to buy the script for the Edinburgh show, which has been published. Haven't found it pirated online yet, but it sits there, awaiting my purchase.
posted by hippybear at 6:52 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]

Oh wow! So cool about the Edinburgh script.

And yes, everything about the "bad decisions" were so relatable. This isn't a horror movie, this is just people bumbling around and living a life, trying to be compassionate and empathetic, being flawed.

I'm rewatching certain bits right now, and on the night he meets O'Brien at the bar, O'Brien says "shall we poison his drink?" regarding his former "writing assistant." Creeeeeepy.
posted by honey badger at 9:02 PM on April 26

Oops, I typed "O'Brien" but meant "O'Connor." Don't type when tired!
posted by honey badger at 9:51 AM on April 27

I really liked the bit when he asks the police if they would take the stalking a bit more seriously if the stalker was a middle-aged man sending emails about masturbating.

And as Gadd has mentioned, he wanted to point out that stalking isn't sexy.
posted by honey badger at 10:00 AM on April 27

The combination of GHB and MDMA is something that really hit hard for me, as I've been on both side of that equation -- offering and receiving. Didn't get raped, but wow, that whole sequence really set me on edge because it runs SOOO incredibly close to situations I've been in before.
posted by hippybear at 11:55 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]

OMG one of my Mastodon friends is watching this now, and it's going to be interesting to watch him going through this.

It's such a good series. I'm getting ready for a rewatch. I feel like I need to revisit this again quickly because it is so rich and full of messy humanity.
posted by hippybear at 2:09 PM on April 27

Definitely a human story. So many moments where you yell at the screen because he is making the wrong choice, but seeing how it is obvious he would take that turn.

When he talks about returning to the Writer's house repeatedly it was such a gut punch.
posted by Julnyes at 12:39 PM on April 29

I need to rewatch it, but on thinking about it from a bit of distance... I don't think he ever once tries to ascribe motivation to others in the story, only what he perceives and how he is affected by their actions. It's a noble storytelling in that it is not trying to say what is going on in other's minds. In that way [amongst many others] it is very honest.
posted by hippybear at 3:08 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]

Husband and I finished this after steaming through the top half and then having to pace ourselves for the final 4 eps. I'm glad we stuck with it, although it was fairly harrowing viewing at times. My abiding impression was how much empathy went into Gadd's portrayal of Martha's actions, and his own - I think you could read some of what transpired in the story as an extremely codependent relationship, but it was also such a nuanced portrait of two very flawed and damaged people.

I spent quite a lot of each episode getting increasingly annoyed with the ever-present voiceover. It seemed like this weird vestigial carry-over from the original play, breaking every "show, don't tell" rule in the book. And then suddenly, in the final episode, when Donny visits Darrien and then leaves, deflated and shaking, the voiceover is so conspicuous in its absence. I kept waiting for his background chatter to pipe in, and it never did. Instead, he queues up a "Complimentary" voicemail from Martha to sooth himself, and suddenly it's her voiceover. I loved that he made explicit for the viewer that even after all of this, there is no clean break (not from her, not from his rapist), no damaged soul made whole after a trial of fire - he is still broken, still requiring the external validation that Martha's attentions provided, still ready to receive something similar from his abuser. I think the story is redemptive in its way, but so, so complicated.

I'm a little surprised that Gadd (and maybe the others involved in the program) didn't realise from the start how easy it would be to work out who 'Martha' was in real life (twitter seems to have managed it in less than a week), and how much the internet would speculate and seek out info about the identity of 'Darrien'. There were multiple instances in the story where his character didn't seem to grok how email or the internet worked, which was a bit jarring and unbelievable, but maybe he just truly doesn't get that with only a tidbit of info, people will go to great lengths to try and figure shit out.
posted by catch as catch can at 12:45 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]

I saw Gadd's earlier show "Monkey See, Monkey Do" which told the story of his sexual assault and his trauma from that and the evolution of his sexuality that resulted from that situation. The entire hour show is Gadd running on a treadmill, telling his story and essentially running away from it. The monkey is a metaphor for the truth/his assault/his rapist and the idea that you have to stop and confront it eventually. So I was at least somewhat prepared with how frank Gadd can be about his life, his own self-loathing and his brand of comedy. (Part of that show also dealt with the kind of in-yer-face comedy he used to do and how wildly different some of his reviews were in his early years in Edinburgh.)

I was so pleased that this show doesn't sand off Gadd's edges - his experiences explain how closed off, secretive he is and why he self-loathes and self-sabotages to an excessive degree. I can't imagine I would have even liked his earlier work (I'm not sure he was ever a prop comic in real life, but more of a ranting insult comic that usually put me off) but seeing his transformation into a self-reflective performance artist/actor has been great. I also think this show is an evolution of this material, because he's had some time to process, get therapy, etc. (Monkey See included audio clips from therapy sessions, but as with all art, is it really true or just emotionally true?)

I am a bit disappointed that internet sleuths needed to go digging, but no one should be surprised. I watch shows based on true crime stuff (like Doctor Death) and I am sitting there googling the real life story while watching the dramatisation.

I also loved that this show has empathy for Martha. A bit disappointed that a courtroom scene is used to resolve that drama (something that didn't happen IRL), especially when she obviously needs counselling more than prison time. But, in the end, she is not really cast as a villain - and Gadd seems to hate himself more than her.

Anyway, the genre of Edinburgh Fringe shows becoming TV shows is strong - Fleabag and Chewing Gum as two other examples.
posted by crossoverman at 6:02 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]

The first 15 minutes of this week's The Rest Is Entertainment gets into ALL of the fallout from this series, and also talks about corporate responsibility to make sure things like "we can find out who this is" unable to happen is a thing that actually exists... it's a very interesting conversation about the larger picture surrounding Baby Reindeer.
posted by hippybear at 1:50 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]

Me, shouting at the TV, over and over: MOVE. AWAY.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:49 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]

There is so much shouting at television that takes place across these four hours.
posted by hippybear at 7:08 PM on May 2

Holy shit, this show is a wild ride.

I'm not sure if there's another movie or tv show that covers this territory closely at all, and certainly none that do it as effectively.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:20 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

The first 15 minutes of this week's The Rest Is Entertainment yt gets into ALL of the fallout from this series, and also talks about corporate responsibility to make sure things like "we can find out who this is" unable to happen is a thing that actually exists... it's a very interesting conversation about the larger picture surrounding Baby Reindeer.

It's funny that the podcast is so careful to not reveal spoilers, and gets pretty finger waggy about the idea of identifying Gadd's stalker from elements of the story, and then pastes a headline with her name on screen. I mean, really?
posted by 2N2222 at 11:41 PM on May 11

This whole thing with the woman who is now trying to sue Netflix: I think there is something odd about a person publicaly outing themselves by going on a notoriously tabloid-y TV show and getting their name and photo distributed around the world, all so they can insist they are nothing like a character in a TV drama. If the character is nothing like you, and none of the people who made it are claiming it is based on you, why come forward at all? Some "internet sleuths" talking about you is one thing; being part of the news cycle is another. What if it really isn't based on her, but another woman who was a stalker? What then?

That aside, I found this show a remarkably accurate depiction of complex trauma, and specifically why asking a victim the question "why didn't you just leave?" is so damaging.
posted by EllaEm at 6:50 PM on June 6

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