Baby Reindeer viewers have a responsibility when it comes to the real Martha

Baby Reindeer viewers have a responsibility when it comes to the real Martha

Richard Gadd's Stalker Drama on Netflix

Richard Gadd's Stalker Drama on Netflix

While Richard Gadd’s stalker drama continues to dominate the Netflix charts, armchair detectives have attempted to find two of the real-life figures who inspired the series. We must do better, writes Adam White, but it’s also baffling that neither Gadd nor Netflix saw this comingerhaps Richard Gadd was naïve? Maybe he didn’t realise Baby Reindeer, his limited series for Netflix inspired by his own stalking, would cause such a stir. That he could smudge the facts of his traumas just enough to protect the people involved. Perhaps he thought better of us.

The success of Gadd’s series has been startling; strong reviews and word-of-mouth praise have helped it sit at number one on the streamer’s UK and US charts more than two weeks after its release. In recent days, though, the show has careened into its inevitable second act. The armchair detectives have arrived. The seven-episode series concluded with a nine-month prison sentence and a restraining order for Gadd’s stalker, his aspiring stand-up Donny looking on as Martha (Jessica Gunning), the woman who’d terrorised him and his loved ones for four years, was led away in handcuffs, her face wan with guilt. Whether this actually happened has been kept deliberately vague.

Gadd has always declined to speak of the real Martha’s present-day whereabouts, and how her harassment campaign came to an end. While doing press for Baby Reindeer – as well as his earlier one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe about his experiences – he has only ever said that the stalking ended. How is unclear. “I didn’t want to throw someone who was that level of mentally unwell in prison,” Gadd told The Times earlier this month.For some, though, this hasn’t been an acceptable climax. Despite Gadd insisting that the Martha of Baby Reindeer is “different for legal reasons” from his real stalker, social media accounts purportedly belonging to the woman who inspired the character have been found and scoured for information. Historic tweets have been unearthed for cheap laughs. Side-by-side comparisons of the woman’s face and that of Gunning’s have gone viral. Separately, attempts have been made to identify the man who raped Gadd, in a sexual assault that is recreated with horrifying specificity in Baby Reindeer’s fourth episode – and that he explored in 2016 in his award-winning one-man show Monkey See, Monkey Do. An actor and director named Sean Foley has indicated that he has contacted police over “defamatory, abusive and threatening posts” following speculation made about him in connection to the show.

On his Instagram, Gadd has already urged viewers to stop. “People I love, have worked with, and admire (including Sean Foley) are unfairly caught up in speculation. Please don’t speculate on who any of the real-life people could be. That’s not the point of our show. Lots of love, Richard x X.”

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