When “Baby Reindeer” first debuted in 2019, Gadd hadn’t heard or seen Martha in two years. This was a huge difference from when he debuted his top prize-winning comedy show “Monkey See, Monkey Do,” which examined his journey as a sexual assault survivor. Martha’s stalking was still actively taking place the year of that performance, which is also acknowledged in the Netflix series. “It would be unfair to say she was an awful person and I was a victim. That didn’t feel true,” he told The Guardian in 2019 after the inaugural run of his one-man play.

“I did loads of things wrong and made the situation worse. I wasn’t a perfect person [back then], so there’s no point saying I was.” The stalking began after Gadd gave Martha a complimentary cup of tea when she came to visit him at the pub where he was working, as an admirer of his work. From there, she began following him, popping up at his comedy gigs, showed up outside of his home, and sent thousands of cryptically misspelled texts and emails.

The emails shown on the Netflix series are the real ones she sent, and Martha’s stalking was not isolated. She also terrorized the people close to him, including his parents and a trans woman he was dating at the time (Nava Mau’s character Teri in the show). In lesser hands, “Baby Reindeer” would be a sensationalist story about a mentally unwell woman terrorizing an innocent man, but Gadd instead depicts the events with as much accuracy as possible and approaches each character with honest vulnerability. “I can’t emphasize enough how much of a victim she is in all this,” he told The Independent. “Stalking and harassment is a form of mental illness. It would have been wrong to paint her as a monster, because she’s unwell, and the system’s failed her.”

“Baby Reindeer” is streaming on Netflix.

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