Baby Reindeer is proof self-obsession today has gone mad

'Where were the compliance procedures from Netflix?' asks Moore
'Where were the compliance procedures from Netflix?' asks Moore - Netflix

Two episodes into the new must-see television show Baby Reindeer, I said to a friend that I just didn’t think I could persevere with it. Partly this was because I have had a horrible experience of stalking myself, partly because instead of drawing me in, I felt that mental illness is not a subject for entertainment and partly because let’s face it, everything on Netflix is always too long.

Still, everyone was talking about the genius of Richard Gadd, star and writer of the show. Stephen King raved about it. Gadd was praised to the skies for his bravery about being raped and his storytelling ability.

But as I forced myself through it, I found it increasingly uncomfortable because I disliked Donny Dunn (Gadd’s character) more and more. His desire for fame, his narcissism, means he encourages a deeply unwell stalker because he seemingly needs adoration. Why is a man who has no boundaries and appears to violate the boundaries of others being celebrated, I wondered? For this is meant to be a true story.

My dislike has only deepened since because very quickly the woman on whom his stalker character Martha is supposed to be based has been identified and has now been giving interviews. The “real man” behind the character who raped him was misidentified and that person has now had death threats and has had to issue defamation warnings. Then, on a podcast, Richard Osman, the quiz show host and writer, revealed that within the television industry people think they know who the rapist is.

Where were the compliance procedures from Netflix? How come these people were apparently so easily identified? On X, a young actress has posted of dealings with Gadd and claims that after she asked to audition for the show, he asked her out. All of this is questionable to say the least. I don’t know if this is true but certainly it’s a mess.

We may conclude that sexual abuse leads to the abuse of others, and this is worth making a seven-part series about. Or we can say the dramatisation of self-loathing, the mining of trauma and refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions is an unfortunate sign of the times.

It’s true, no animals were harmed in the making of Baby Reindeer. But it seems to me that people were.