Stalking, sexual assault and a toxic fixation: Baby Reindeer review


SPOILER ALERT! Coach John critiques the Netflix mini-series everyone is talking about.

Click HERE to download the Weekly English Practice as a PDF.

Useful Vocabulary

gripping: (adj) holding the attention or interest intensely; fascinating

lighthearted: (adj) cheerful or carefree in mood or disposition

stalker: (n) a person pursues, follows or harasses another person against their wishes.

win over: (v) to gain the favour, consent, or support of someone

deals with: (v) to take action and/or attempt to solve a problem

sitcom: (n) a situation comedy

hinting: (v) to make indirect suggestions

heart-wrenching: (adj) extremely sad or distressing

binge-worthy: (adj) engaging enough for a viewer to watch multiple episodes in succession

Stalking, sexual assault and a toxic fixation: Baby Reindeer review

SPOLIER ALERT! Coach John critiques the Netflix mini-series everyone is talking about.

Baby Reindeer is a gripping series that may sound sweet, but it’s far from lighthearted and is based on a true story. Main character, Donny Dunn, is played by Scottish comedian Richard Gadd, who also wrote the series. Donny’s nickname, “Baby Reindeer,” comes from his stalker, Martha, who becomes obsessed with him.

The story starts with Donny offering Martha a free cup of tea, thinking she’s just a lonely older woman. However, their friendship quickly turns toxic as Martha becomes increasingly disturbing in her attempts to win Donny over and later ruin his life. Throughout the series, Donny not only deals with the stalking but also struggles with his sexuality and past sexual assault.

Baby Reindeer is hard to categorise into one genre. While it’s marketed as a black comedy, it also has elements of a thriller. The cinematography is dark and intense, with close-up shots that make you feel immersed in the story. Some scenes are violent and explosive, while others are deeply emotional.

The episodes are relatively short, like sitcoms, and Donny often wears a clown-like suit, hinting at his insecurities. Scenes with Donny’s parents are more dramatic, including a heart-wrenching moment where he opens up to them about his past trauma.

Gadd narrates the entire series, providing even more insight into Donny’s thoughts. He often isolates himself from others, but strangely, he lets Martha get close to him, as he admits later on.

What makes Baby Reindeer even more disturbing is that it’s based on a true story. Somewhere out there, a real-life Martha exists. Some dedicated fans have even tried to identify her through social media accounts. Despite its challenging content, Baby Reindeer is binge-worthy.

The acting in the series is excellent, and the supporting cast shines. Baby Reindeer shines a light on the incompetence of the police and the lack of legislation when it comes to stalking. Donny’s multiple attempts to seek help from the police are dismissed, reflecting the unfortunate reality for many stalking victims, especially women.

It’s important to have thought-provoking art that criticises societal issues while still being entertaining. 

  1. Give a summary of the texts to your coach or classmates
  2. If you have seen Baby Reindeer, do you agree with John’s critique? If not would you like to see it?
  3. Is is okay to be ‘entertained’ by a such a serious subject?
  4. As Baby Reindeer is based on the stories of real people – what are the possible ethical questions? 
  5. Why is the series called Baby Reindeer? (If you know, you know!) 
  6. Read the definitions of Domestic Abuse terms on page 2: What do the terms, gaslighting, love bombing, negging and stonewalling mean?