Is Baby Reindeer on Netflix a True Story? What's Real vs. Fake

By Richard Nebens Updated:
Baby Reindeer

As fans dive into the Baby Reindeer series on Netflix, the question of what's actually a true story or fake arose.

Based on Richard Gadd's play of the same name, Baby Reindeer highlights a struggling comedian who performs an act of kindness to a vulnerable woman, putting both of their lives in danger.

The seven-episode thriller debuted on Netflix on April 11.

Which Parts of Baby Reindeer Are a True Story?

Baby Reindeer Netflix main characters

The Baby Reindeer show on Netflix is based on real experiences that creator and leading star Richard Gadd had with sexual assault, his bisexual orientation, and a stalker.

Speaking with The Times, Gadd recalled a woman who came up to him in a bar as he was working there, telling him she couldn't afford a drink before he made her a cup of tea for free.

Following that incident, the woman turned into his stalker, lasting four and a half years.

He looked back on how people at the bar "thought it was funny that [he] had an admirer," which came before she showed up at his events and outside of his house while sending thousands of messages:

"At first everyone at the pub thought it was funny that I had an admirer. Then she started to invade my life, following me, turning up at my gigs, waiting outside my house, sending thousands of voicemails and emails.”

Gadd went to the police to report this woman, although they did not believe his story.

He explained how men being stalked in movies and TV shows can "be a sexy thing," going into the idea of a "femme fatale" who grows more evil with each act.

"When a man gets stalked it can be portrayed in films and television as a sexy thing. Like a femme fatale who gradually becomes more sinister. It doesn’t carry as much threat of physical violence, is less common and can be trivialised. I was physically scared because I didn’t know how far she could take it, she could have a knife, but I did think how terrifying it would be if she was a tall scary man."

He was forced to prove the threat by recording her messages and combing through them to find instances of her threatening him or those close to him.

In the show, the stalker was sentenced to nine months in prison and a five-year restraining order. However, in real life, Gadd cannot say much about it other than the fact that it has been "resolved:"

"It is resolved. I had mixed feelings about it — I didn’t want to throw someone who was that level of mentally unwell in prison."

Gadd also spoke with The Independent about his work, explaining how he received over 40,000 emails over three years, mostly with grammar and spelling errors. His stalker would heckle him at his gigs and abuse his parents, even putting his father on blast by calling him a pedophile among his colleagues at work.

The subject of the film commented further on the state of the police department, noting how that "institution...needs improvement" and how he's felt let down often over the years:

"I never want to lambast the police, because I think there is a national acknowledgement at the moment that the police is an institution which needs improvement. I  have met very good policemen in my time. And, unfortunately, I’ve met some that I feel extraordinarily let down by."

What Happened in Baby Reindeer?

In the show, Richard Gadd's Donny Dunn is seen forming a relationship with an older and successful TV writer who offers him comedy and career advice. However, the two would go on to take hard drugs together before Donny is sexually assaulted and raped after being drugged with acid and GHB.

While he frees himself after realizing how he had been groomed, this trauma takes a major toll on the rest of his life as he deals with his stalking situation.

The series also takes a unique approach to sexuality with Donny being bisexual (as is Gadd); the team behind the series intended to bring that kind of representation to the project naturally and accurately.

So, while the specific events in Baby Reindeer are slightly different than what happened in real life, fans can see how closely the two stories are connected and the inspiration the show took from reality.

Baby Reindeer is now streaming on Netflix.

Read more about other projects from Netflix below:

Full Cast of Unlocked: A Jail Experiment Netflix: Meet the People & Inmates In New Reality Series (Photos)

3 Body Problem Season 2 Gets Promising Update from Creator

Dusty's Reduced Heartbreak High Season 2 Role Explained

- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.