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The Student News Site of Hazen High School

The Kilt

The Student News Site of Hazen High School

The Kilt

Baby Reindeer Psychological Debrief

TW Sexual abuse and mention of mental illness 

In April 2024, Netflix dropped the groundbreaking and moving drama mini-series, “Baby Reindeer.” The series caught the eyes of many individuals and critics for its outstanding visual work and powerful acting performances. The series covered the life of UK comedian Richard Gadd and his shocking, yet troubled life from 2015 to 2017. 

Besides the use of fake names and a handful of dramatized scenes, the series reveals the true story of Gadd’s experience with a deranged and obsessive stalker, Martha Scott, who does whatever it takes to fulfill her wishes of being with Gadd. The seven-episode rollercoaster has been considered notorious for leaving viewers on the edge of their seats, with each minute giving us a glimpse into the emotions and actions of Gadd during this hectic time in his life. 

The show has left many viewers with an appreciation for the raw and harsh truth of the experiences that many people struggle with in our world. It has been recognized through the series that the psychological actions and behavior of several of the characters in the series hold many similarities to those experiencing the same effect in society. 

In many reviews, the series is applauded for its accuracy in portraying mental illness and trauma as the series progresses.  However, it seemed as if viewers were unaware of these snide hints and symptoms throughout the series, leaving them unable to fully process the series and its greatness. It is important to provide a psychological debrief of the series, allowing an explanation for the character’s actions in order to provide the actual and intense truth and beauty within Baby Reindeer. 

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To set the scene, the series takes place mainly in London, with some scenes taking place in south-east Scotland, specifically Edinburgh.  Richard Gadd, who will be addressed by his character name in the series, Donny, is a young aspiring comedian from Scotland who had recently moved around the country to achieve his goal of becoming a big-time comedian. Through conversations and background dialogue, Donny had spent all of his life imagining his career flourishing and becoming notable one day. With very little information on his specific upbringing, viewers are given the main focus on Donny’s current career, as a bartender at a local pub. We see through early mention that Donny is quite miserable with his current career and living situation, however, he must continue this way of life in order to be stable. 

We are introduced to Martha shortly after the series begins. Martha claimed to be a popular and professional lawyer who has helped with many political cases in the U.K. When acknowledging the demeanor and presence of Martha, most of her actions seem to be solely a facade. However, a continuing emotion toward Martha that is seen throughout the series is introduced in the first episode, pity and sorrow. Donny’s initial impression of Martha is a common response toward recognizing and uncovering one’s untruthful ways. Something that can be conducted as a baseline for many of the situations that continue to progress within the series.

 Donny’s emotions influenced him to commit acts of service toward Martha: long conversations, providing her with free drinks from the bar, and even agreeing to meet up outside of his normal work hours. From the outside point of view, this would be normally labeled as a blossoming friendship; however, with Donny’s internal monologue, he is letting his curiosity get the best of him and figure out what secrets Martha is holding. 

As the series progresses, Martha’s true mentality and state begin to finally creep in. Jessica Gunning provides the intense fixation towards someone portrayed through Martha’s acting role. She goes to great lengths to find Donny’s personal information and sources like his Email and phone number. 

Martha’s obsession becomes more severe, resulting in her messaging Donny over eighty times a day. Donny is in a constant state of distress and panic, while also trying his best to flourish his career in comedy. 

During this time, he discovered Martha had served several years in prison for committing similar crimes to other individuals and previous co-workers. The psychological aspect of acknowledging Martha’s previous history is important to understand her current actions. With an accurate understanding of Martha’s actions, the viewer acknowledges that Martha would most likely be suffering from several mental illnesses. These include Borderline Personality Disorder, and Erotomania, due to her stated beliefs that Donny is just as obsessed with her as she is with him.

It must be noted that Donny’s past life and experiences play a major role in how he handled his situation with Martha. Donny experienced consistent sexual abuse and trauma during the rise of his comedic career. In an emotionally moving and raw monologue during the second-to-last episode, Donny revealed a professional and supposedly trusted adult figure promised Donny immediate fame if a relationship was formed. The control and manipulation Donny faced during this time is another common experience for those aspiring to be in the industry. The constant desire to do whatever it takes to be recognized as someone notable played a contributing factor to Donny’s tolerance of trauma.

The rewiring of the brain’s activity when experiencing a traumatic situation contributed heavily to Donny’s declining sanity during his journey with Martha. The series specifically points out the constant feeling of guilt when it comes to taking action towards the situation. Recognizing Donny’s bottled trauma, he commonly feels guilty when it comes to pressing charges against Martha or his sexual abuser. He is often trying to find reasons as to why no action should be taken to resolve the issue. The potential result leading to an escalation of the situation is a sign of a trauma response from Donny. Leading to him continuing his life in fear. 

The series comes to a peak when Martha’s obsession and desire towards Donny transforms into aggression and antagonism. Donny and his family begin to receive threatening and harsh messages and calls from Martha, as she is initially triggered by Donny’s refusal and distance.  While his career is beginning to take off, Donny is clearly emotionally drained and exhausted by the actions of Martha, finally leading him to take a different direction. As Donny takes the dreadful and exhausting legal approach to end Martha’s actions, we finally begin to see Donny take control of his life and past. We see Donny acknowledging his trauma by confronting his abuser and telling his story to his parents, thus signifying Donny’s breakthrough towards his trauma. 

We see the series come to a finale. Martha was issued a restraining order against Donny and charged for stalking and harassment over the course of three years. Martha sent over 41,000 emails to Donny and hundreds of phone calls to him and his family. The series created and provided an accurate and concise representation of mental illness as well as trauma that is faced by both men and women. With the ability to capture accurate symptoms of mental distress and illness, the series has done an incredible job of moving its viewers. 

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About the Contributor
Aliyah Diquan-Mcrae
Aliyah Diquan-Mcrae, Co-Head Editor
One of my favorite articles I wrote in The Kilt would have to be “Gangsta Rap and the N.W.A” that I wrote last year or “The little Mermaid” story from this year!
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