Richard Gadd as Donny and Nava Mau as Teri in Baby Reindeer

Richard Gadd Tells an Important True Story in ‘Baby Reindeer’

Viewers have been delving into the dark and binge-worthy new Netflix series Baby Reindeer. However, some may be shocked to learn the dark tale is based on a true story.

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Baby Reindeer arrived on Netflix on April 11, and is created and produced by Richard Gadd, who wrote the play of the same name that inspired the series. Meanwhile, Gadd also stars in the series as Donny, an aspiring comedian who meets Martha (Jessica Gunning) when the woman visits the bar where he works. The woman is unable to pay for her tea, so he serves her for free. It’s a small act of kindness that gives way to a friendly chat. However, things turn dark when that simple act lays the foundation for Martha’s obsession. Soon, Donny finds himself being stalked by Martha, and the incident resurfaces dark memories he once tried to bury.

So far, Baby Reindeer has received stellar reviews from critics and audiences. Many note it’s not a typical stalker thriller, given the many twists and turns the show takes viewers through. Additionally, although there are moments of humor, it goes a lot deeper and darker than one might expect. It is quite a powerful and moving exploration of trauma that isn’t afraid to make viewers uncomfortable. Adding to the depth and power of the series is that it is based on Gadd’s own experiences.

The true story behind Baby Reindeer

Richard Gadd sitting on a bus in Baby Reindeer
(Netflix)

As mentioned above, Gadd is the creator behind Baby Reindeer, and the show is a fictionalized retelling of his own experience dealing with a stalker whom he has never named due to legal reasons. The show’s title is a nod to the fact that his stalker nicknamed him “Baby Reindeer.”

The situation started over a decade ago when Gadd was kind to a woman visiting the pub where he worked. At first, he and his colleagues dismissed her and even joked that he had an “admirer.” However, eventually, her actions went far beyond admiring Gadd as she began to follow him, constantly showing up at his workplace and home and inundating him with voicemails, e-mails, text messages, and social media messages.

Over the course of four years, the stalker sent him a staggering 41,071 e-mails, 250 hours of voicemail messages, 744 tweets, 46 Facebook messages, and 106 pages worth of letters. She also left him a number of odd gifts, such as hats, underwear, a reindeer toy, and sleeping pills. Her stalking wasn’t limited to him, as she also reportedly contacted, harassed, and made false accusations against his parents. Perhaps the most frustrating part of the situation is that authorities refused to help Gadd or his stalker, who he says was suffering from mental health issues. For years, the authorities claimed what the woman was doing wasn’t technically illegal and actually accused Gadd of harassing police for trying to get help.

Gadd eventually successfully got a restraining order against her and confirmed the issue was resolved, although he didn’t reveal where she is now or what ultimately happened to her. Additionally, he has largely sought mercy for her, explaining his intention with the show is not to play the victim or demonize his stalker but simply to represent stalking as a form of mental illness and to push authorities to try to help these individuals. He also stated that he did not want her to go to jail for this reason.

In addition to the stalking experience being true, Gadd has confirmed that the assault Donny experiences at the hands of an older man also happened to him. While he has opted not to share what happened to his abuser, he told The Guardian that he wanted to tell his story to free himself of it. He stated, “Keeping this in was really hard. And I knew the only way I’d be free of it is if I start to tell people. I don’t think anyone knows how bad it is until it happens. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I think.”

Gadd’s story in Baby Reindeer has the potential to help countless individuals, especially as sexual assault and stalking are such prevalent problems and male victims of both tend to be especially underserved. It’s important for these experiences to be realistically depicted, especially since the media can sometimes romanticize abuse and stalking. Gadd emphasized how he wanted to share what stalking really looks like, as he feels shows nowadays often depict stalkers as sexy, mysterious, and alluring.

Despite their popularity, most hit shows like You do not accurately represent or vouch for victims of stalking. Baby Reindeer is quite important then for allowing Gadd to tell his story while ensuring victims of assault and stalking truly feel heard and seen.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.