Jessica Gunning as Martha Scott in Baby Reindeer

The Sad Theory Behind Martha’s ‘Sent From My iPhone’ Messages in ‘Baby Reindeer’

After becoming a major hit on Netflix, Baby Reindeer has become one of the most talked about shows on social media. One particular aspect that stirred many jokes and discussions was Martha’s (Jessica Gunning) insistence on writing “Sent from my iPhone” after every e-mail.

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Baby Reindeer follows the story of Donny Dunn (Richard Gadd), an aspiring comedian who meets Martha when she stops at the bar where he’s working one night. The woman is in a somber mood, revealing she has no money to pay for a drink, so he offers her tea on the house. It’s a friendly gesture, but one that will change the course of Donny’s life as it marks the beginning of Martha developing an obsession with him and stalking him for years.

The show is based on Gadd’s real-life experience with a stalker. Although he has chosen not to identify his stalker, he has opened up about the details of his experience. Over a four-year period, the woman sent him a total of 41,071 e-mails, 350 hours worth of voicemail messages, 744 tweets, 106 pages of letters, and 46 Facebook messages. She also sent him bizarre gifts and contacted his family as well. Meanwhile, the text messages and e-mails Martha sends Donny in the show are real messages Gadd received from his stalker. The messages are often extremely bizarre and sometimes threatening. A common characteristic of each message is the “Sent from my iPhone” signature.

Why does Martha always write “Sent from my iPhone”?

Richard Gadd as Martha in Netflix's Baby Reindeer
(Netflix)

Most iPhone users are familiar with the “Sent from my iPhone” phrase. Essentially, when one writes an e-mail from their iPhone, the phone will automatically add “Sent from my iPhone” as a signature underneath the message. Most users turn off the function because it is sometimes seen as unprofessional and a sign that someone didn’t bother proofreading their e-mail and deleting the unnecessary signature. However, one wouldn’t expect a stalker to care about the signature marking her e-mails, so some may wonder what the big deal is with Baby Reindeer‘s Martha utilizing it.

The problem is that Martha doesn’t actually have an iPhone. When Martha’s phone is shown in episode 1, it’s an old-school Nokia rather than an iPhone. Even if viewers didn’t notice that detail, they will notice many messages have misspellings in the “Sent from my iPhone” signature, which is a clear sign she’s typing out the line instead of letting it be automatically inserted. Many viewers find the detail humorous and have taken to randomly tagging their social media posts and comments with “Sent from my iPhone” to poke fun at Martha.

However, there might actually be a legitimate reason behind why Martha added the signature to her messages. Psychologist Dr. Becky Spelman provided an interesting theory about the matter to GLAMOUR. She posits that Martha might have used the signature to try to portray herself as belonging to a certain class or boasting a certain level of sophistication to make her more appealing to Donny. Spelman stated:

It is highly likely that Martha wrote ‘Sent from my iPhone’ at the end of messages – when she didn’t actually own an iPhone – to create a perception of status or sophistication. She may have believed that associating herself with the iPhone brand enhanced her image or professionalism, and that this would increase the chances of Donny finding her attractive and desirable. By creating a favourable impression, we build trust and credibility in relationships. Insecurities about self-worth or a fear of rejection may also have driven Martha to try to impress Donny in this way.

It is an interesting and plausible theory, especially since the events of Baby Reindeer happened over a decade ago when iPhones were still fairly new and not everyone had a touchscreen device. Back then, rather than being a mark of embarrassment, the “Sent from my iPhone” signature could’ve been smugly dropped as a reminder that one belonged to the growing class of iPhone users.

In a way, the theory may also raise further sympathy for Martha. It reiterates the point that Martha, as unbelievable as it may sound, was also a victim. She suffered abuse and trauma as a child and constantly yearned for someone to love her. The terrible things she did were part of her desperate desire to change her story. She wanted to be someone who felt loved and seen, as well as someone who was impressive and professional enough to own an iPhone. It doesn’t excuse anything she did, but it’s a reminder of what the desire to escape a sad reality can drive a person to do.

(feature 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.