Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Baby Reindeer’ is an overwhelming success

Comedian Richard Gadd’s new series on Netflix is both raw and insane
Photo courtesy of IMDb

“Baby Reindeer” is one of the most unique and raw series I have seen in years. Comedian Richard Gadd – who plays a character based on himself named Donny Dunn — recounts his past trauma with his stalker, Martha, in London. This flabbergasting series takes the audience through Gadd’s experiences that led him to where he is today.

The synopsis of the show essentially unravels how one act of kindness forever changed Gadd’s life. When Martha, a fictionalized name, went into the pub he was working at, looking upset, Dunn gave her a free cup of tea.

From there, she becomes obsessed with Dunn and begins stalking him. As Dunn continues to navigate his place in the comedy world, his experience with Martha leads him to think about some of his past trauma. As things get more severe, Dunn goes to the police station where Martha is sentenced to jailtime. In real life, Martha never went to jail, and Gadd left parts of his story out to balance aspects of his comedy.

Martha stalked Gadd for over three years, sending over 41,000 emails, endless tweets and hours of voicemails. The audience does not learn the real names of those involved in Gadd’s life for protective purposes, and he continues to urge fans to stop the speculation.

The dichotomy between Dunn and Martha is unexpected, and Gadd presents himself exactly how he acted: good and bad. There are moments throughout the series where Martha seems like a friend to Dunn until she takes everything too far. She was, without a doubt, Gadd’s biggest fan at the start of his comedy career when he was severely struggling.

This abuse story is unlike anything I have ever seen before; it feels raw, uncomfortable and realistic. There were multiple times throughout the show, specifically from episode four to episode seven that made me feel physically unwell. This show is not an easy watch, but it is a truly impactful and worthwhile series.

Stories of men enduring abuse are rarely portrayed on screen and Gadd does a fantastic job telling his story. The series must have been challenging for Gadd; there are multiple scenes that are traumatizing to watch as a viewer, let alone the victim acting out their traumatic experiences. Gadd’s pain throughout this series hits the audience much harder because of the reality it is based on.

I hope Gadd found this experience as a means to work through his trauma and express himself artistically. “Baby Reindeer” has been number one on Netflix for almost three straight weeks, with reviews and ratings on Rotten Tomatoes hitting a staggering 98 percent fresh.

It takes a certain kind of person to be self-aware enough to create a show like this. Gadd isn’t afraid to be vulnerable and show his true and authentic self, which is at times ugly; he isn’t a perfect person or a perfect “character” that is commonly seen on television, as he’s incredibly flawed. Dunn at times comes across as an extremely dislikable person, showcasing the dichotomy and depth his character and his real-life self has.

I am predicting multiple Emmy wins for Gadd this upcoming award season, specifically for episode four through to the finale. Notably, Gadd’s monologue during his breakdown on stage was brave and perfectly articulated. I am blown away by not only Gadd’s performance, but also his knack for writing with such depth and detail. He deserves a great amount of credit for not only writing about his trauma but acting it out for the world as well.

The series left me thinking about it for days after I finished the show. Despite it only having seven episodes, the show never felt rushed or too quick.

Episodes were heavy, with a lot for the audience to digest so that the seven-episode series felt whole and complete. The show comes full circle by the end; Dunn receives a free drink at a pub out of the kindness of the server’s heart. There is a moment of realization for him, and all that questioning and self-doubt is erased as Dunn realizes that Martha’s response to him was not his fault.

Gadd’s unique and quirky sense of humor paired with such heavy topics makes for a monumental new type of show. There is truly no show like “Baby Reindeer,” and I highly recommend giving it a watch.

Olivia Baier can be reached at  [email protected].

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