BABY REINDEER. Stephen King was right – holy shit!

“Baby Reindeer”, like a devil whispering on your shoulder, doesn’t compromise, sticks its dirty finger into socially festering wounds, and observes our reaction.”

Jakub Piwoński

12 May 2024

baby reindeer

Oh, Netflix really stirred things up in our heads recently by gifting us with a certain present. The service added the series “Baby Reindeer” to its library, which is a product as deceptive, unconventional, and surprising as possible. “Holy shit,” was Stephen King’s reaction after watching, and it seems entirely fitting. It’s such a surprise series that, upon unwrapping it, we receive something more bitter than sweet, and consuming it leaves us quite perplexed.

Think twice before buying an innocent woman tea at a bar. It might set off a spiral of misfortunes and drastically change your life. This mistake was made by the fictional Donny, a bartender and unsuccessful comedian, who decided to show pity to Martha and let her into his life by displaying ordinary kindness. The other side interpreted this as interest, which encouraged a merciless attack. Donny started receiving numerous vulgar emails based on an illusory sense of connection between them. But this is just a fraction of the problems that arose in Donny’s life due to his contact with Martha, who turned out to be a skilled stalker.


I must admit that I approached this series without much knowledge of what I was dealing with. And probably that’s why it surprised me so much. Positive reviews tempted me, and the fact that I didn’t know the cast at all seemed attractive. I won’t hide that the episode lengths also mattered in this case. I expected a quick and straightforward production, bathed in a comedic sauce. Instead, I received something dynamic but completely unfunny, very challenging to digest, grabbing onto so many issues at once that watching it definitely exceeded the timeframe of a standard episode.

The scriptwriter and creator of the series is Richard Gadd, previously unknown to me. When I decided to acquaint myself with this author while engaging with “Baby Reindeer,” I was shocked. The familiar fact that the series was based on true events, combined with the information that the creator drew from his own experiences to tell this story, hit me. It dawned on me that this guy told his own experiences and even cast himself in the lead role, sort of… self-inflicting! As I write this, I have images from the fourth episode in my mind, which will probably be remembered by many as one of the most shocking in TV history.

It hit me right away— I haven’t dealt with something so bold and honest in a long time.

Ah, honesty. Because there’s also another possible interpretation of this “Baby Reindeer,” which puts Richard Gadd in an unfavorable light. Just as touching and heart-breaking is the dramatic coming out and sharing of all his tragic experiences, the reverse of that is cynicism, as the author himself communicates. Because just as Martha was toxic for him, she was also necessary because she provided the necessary approval. Following this train of thought, “Baby Reindeer” is as honest and painful in its confessions as it is cynical, treating personal trauma as an attractive product to sell.

What’s extraordinary here is the effect of a self-fulfilling prophecy we witness, tied to the meta-structure of the series. It’s like a “film within a film.” A humble creation that tells the story of unremarkable individuals whose encounter contributes to the creation of an entirely unusual tale. And to make this joke even better, the story is about a comedian no one understands, who bares everything inside to gain attention, turning this into the backbone of a series. Someone here has indeed bitten their own tail!

Regardless of the perspective we take on the events discussed in “Baby Reindeer,” whether the characters repel us or we sympathize with them, this series, like no other, encourages critical thinking. I assure you. Sex, violence, sexual orientation, identity, fear, purpose of existence, family upbringing, trauma, societal prejudices—these topics blend dynamically, intertwining with one another, not allowing enough space to catch one’s breath and calmly reflect on everything. “Baby Reindeer,” like a devil whispering on your shoulder, doesn’t compromise; it sticks its dirty finger into the most socially festering wounds and observes our reaction.

I wouldn’t call the time spent with “Baby Reindeer” a satisfying adventure because Richard Gadd’s goal, I believe, wasn’t to please us. It’s more of a rather loud (sometimes desperate) call to pay attention to the darkness of the human soul. It struck me, provoked deeper reflection, but now all I want to do is… take a thorough shower.

Jakub Piwoński

Jakub Piwoński

Cultural expert, passionate about popular culture, in particular films, series, computer games and comics. He likes to fly away to unknown, fantastic regions, thanks to his fascination with science fiction. Professionally, however, he looks back more often, thanks to his work as a museum promotion specialist, investigating the mysteries of the beginnings of cinematography. His favorite film is "The Matrix", because it combines two areas close to his heart - religion and martial arts.

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