The Star of ‘Baby Reindeer’ Wants Fans to Stop Speculating About the “True Story”

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‘Baby Reindeer’: Richard Gadd's True StoryNetflix

True crime is a dangerous genre. When audiences cue up a show like The Jinx, they’re grappling not only with real crimes but also with the people suspected of such brutal acts. But when a series decides to blend fact and fiction, it’s natural for viewers to question the unwritten rules of true-crime dramatizations. Netflix’s latest effort in the harrowing genre, Baby Reindeer, is currently dealing with the consequences of toeing that line.

The show stars British comedian Richard Gadd, who wrote an autobiographical one-man show about his experience with a violent stalker that ran in London’s West End. Baby Reindeer seeks to tell that story over the course of a scripted seven-episode series, with actors portraying versions of real people in Gadd’s life—including his alleged stalker. Gadd plays Donny Dunn, a fictionalized version of himself, and dramatizes a four-year span in Gadd’s twenties when he was harassed, sexually assaulted, and stalked by a woman (portrayed by actress Jessica Gunning) he meets at the pub where he works.

Since the show’s debut in mid-April, Baby Reindeer has turned into a word-of-mouth success for Netflix. The series experienced an unusual growth in viewership over its first three weeks, rising to the top of the streamer’s most-watched list in both the U.S. and the UK. According to Deadline, Baby Reindeer’s audience shot from around 2.6 million in its first week to 22 million two weeks later. Even horror writer Stephen King chimed in on the phenomenon on X, exclaiming, “BABY REINDEER: Holy shit.”

With increased interest in Gadd’s autobiographical story, the need to protect Baby Reindeer’s real-life counterparts only grew. On social media, Gadd and Gunning urged fans to stop searching for the real stalker—renamed Martha Scott on the series to hide her identity. “People I love, have worked with, and admire…are unfairly getting caught up in speculation,” Gadd wrote to fans in an Instagram story. “Please don’t speculate on who any of the real-life people could be. That’s not the point of our show.”

Previously, Gadd told Variety that the events of the series are “all emotionally 100 percent true.” The British comedian also stressed that “you can’t do the exact truth, for both legal and artistic reasons….There’s certain protections; you can’t just copy somebody else’s life and name and put it onto television. And obviously, we were very aware that some characters in it are vulnerable people, so you don’t want to make their lives more difficult. So you have to change things to protect yourself and protect other people.”

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Richard Gadd stars as Donny, a fictionalized version of himself.ED MILLER/NETFLIX - Netflix

The problem? Some of those protections are not so airtight. Sean Foley, a Tony-nominated actor who resembles a character on the show, found himself inexplicably tied to accusations and online abuse from fans. It continued even after Gadd asked fans to stop harassing Foley and cease speculation about the people behind the series. “Police have been informed and are investigating all defamatory abusive and threatening posts against me,” Foley wrote on X, reposting Gadd’s message to fans.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Gadd’s self-alleged real-life stalker weighed in on the controversy, though the publication declined to use her real name. “He’s using Baby Reindeer to stalk me now,” the woman claimed. “I’m the victim. He’s written a bloody show about me.” She also threatened legal action against Gadd. The Baby Reindeer creator has yet to comment on his alleged stalker speaking to the press about the series, but Gadd maintains that it went to great lengths to protect her identity.

“I wanted to show the nuances of the human condition, really,” he told This Morning right after the series hit Netflix. “I wanted to show that people are a mixture of good and bad, and I think stalker stories usually tend to be one person is good, one person is bad. And I wanted to kind of get away from that.”

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