7 Times Baby Reindeer Made for Uncomfortable Viewing 

by Callum Murray

Netflix’s Baby Reindeer has become the phenomenon of 2024. Fans and critics alike praise it for tackling tough issues over seven exceptional and bingeable episodes. The series tells the story of Donny Dunn (Richard Gadd), a struggling standup comedian whose one act of kindness leads to an extreme case of stalking from Martha (Jessica Gunning), an unstable woman frequenting the pub in London where Donny works.  

The show is based on the harrowing true story of Gadd, who adapted his stage play of the same name into this series. It’s a darkly comic tale that has hit a nerve with audiences and even garnered praise from Stephen King, who hailed it one of the best things he’s ever seen. It made for uncomfortable viewing throughout.

Here are seven of the most soul-destroying moments in the show.

Trigger Warning: The following contains mentions of rape and sexual abuse 

Breakdown on Stage

Donny wears a plaid suit while standing on stage with a microphone. A spotlight shines on him with a red velvet curtain behind him in Baby Reindeer.

There’s nothing more uncomfortable than watching a standup comedian bomb on stage and be heckled. This happens a few times to Donny in Baby Reindeer. However, the most shocking standup scene in the show is when he has an onstage meltdown about his horrific sexual abuse.  

RELATED: Check Out These 10 New Photos From Doctor Who‘s “Boom”

Gone are the quirky props synonymous with his comedy act, which he angrily tosses aside. It’s just Donny sat on his stool, with his microphone, breaking down in tears and recounting his horrible true story. In that moment, the audience at home feels like the show’s audience, frozen in shock as the truth comes out.  

The Masturbation Over Martha 

Martha smiles and points at Donny. She sits at a bar as a customer while Donny works behind it in Baby Reindeer.

Baby Reindeer features a troubling series of events, with no one character treated without elements of conflicted ambiguity. Despite Donny’s distress at his stalking ordeal, when Martha ceases her advances on him, he finds himself weirdly missing her endless attention.  

RELATED: Mobile Game Monday: Love is in small things

This leads to an uncomfortable scene where he masturbates over a picture she gave him of her in her underwear. It is a very revealing moment as it shows how bad Donny’s self-loathing has become and the complexity of his previous sexual experiences. He isn’t attracted to Martha but likes the attention she heaps upon him. Similar to the situation with his other abuser, Darrien O’Connor (Tom Goodman-Hill), he can’t help but return for more.  

The Rape 

Darrien smiles while sitting on a couch in a dimly lit living room in Baby Reindeer.

The promise of a career in television comedy writing excites Donny on episode four of Baby Reindeer. The timeline harks back to the pre-Martha days. We meet the initially charming Darrien, who takes Donny under his wing.  

However, things take a turn for the worse when Darrien gets Donny hooked on drugs and ends up raping his protégé. It’s so uncomfortable to watch, especially as Donny keeps returning to his abuser. This storyline has led to online sleuths trying to figure out who the real-life abuser is, with Gadd insisting people should stop trying to find out as this wasn’t his intention. The irony of it all is that the audience has become the stalker. Apparently, the abuser’s identity is an open secret in the industry. Here’s hoping it leads to a MeToo-type movement in the television comedy world.  

RELATED: 10 Lesbian TV Shows That Prove Representation Matters

Donny’s Revelation to His Parents 

There are some things you really don’t want to reveal to your parents. Doing so would result in the utmost discomfort, which is what Donny goes through toward the end of Baby Reindeer‘s gut-punching seven-episode run. He sits down with his parents and reveals all, knowing his onstage outburst has gone viral, and they would find out soon enough anyway.  

His parents’ reaction is unexpected and will likely help others who have suffered similar ordeals to share their pain in their quest for survival. After all, that is the job of art: to give people the courage to heal. Donny’s father reveals he, too, was a victim of sexual abuse growing up in the catholic church. They hug in one of the most emotional moments in the whole series.  

The Canal Groping 

Martha’s relentless stalking via social media makes for uncomfortable viewing. However, one of the series’ most shocking moments is when she escalates her behaviour to a physical attack on Donny. She tracks him down via his route home to a deserted canal path, where she violently gropes him. 

RELATED: The Bear Season 3 Will Be Here Sooner Than Expected

It’s a shocking moment, and it becomes even more shocking when the full story of Donny’s past is revealed later in the series. The incident all came about because of one of Donny’s so-called friends nicking his phone and sending Martha a vulgar email suggesting he would like to have anal sex with her. It really highlights the lack of understanding about the severity of male victim-based stalking.  

Martha Turning Up at Donny’s Home 

Martha smiles while sitting across from Donny in a restaurant in Baby Reindeer.

When Donny returns to the home where he lives with his ex-girlfriend’s mother (this whole situation is uncomfortable in itself) and finds her having a dinner party, everything seems normal. However, when Martha emerges from the kitchen as one of the guests, the devastation is written all over Donny’s face.  

RELATED: AMC Reveals Snowpiercer Season 4 Premiere Date and First-Look Photos

Martha has now infiltrated one of the few sacred places Donny has left. She’d already turned up at the pub where he works and his comedy shows, hurling abuse at him. Now, she firmly has her feet under the table in his home. It all escalates from here when she watches him from a nearby bus stop for hours on end.  

The Treatment of Teri 

Donny and Teri stand close to each other on an underground train in London in Baby Reindeer.

The character of Teri (Nava Mau) is one of the highlights of Baby Reindeer. She’s a trans woman and Donny’s love interest, and is the only potential for true happiness for the troubled comedian. Unfortunately, he felt the need to give himself a false name and occupation when meeting her on a dating site. 

The uncomfortable moment arrives when they are on the underground train at the end of one of their dates. She reaches out to kiss him, but he jumps off the train, leaving Teri in the lurch. His treatment of her is cruel, but the complexities of his psyche won’t allow him to experience this potentially joyful relationship. 

Baby Reindeer is now streaming on Netflix

BODKIN: What to Expect From Will Forte’s Mystery Comedy on Netflix