‘Baby Reindeer’ is dark British comedy with bisexual, trans characters

(Editor’s note: This post contains minor spoilers for the Netflix series “Baby Reindeer.”)

Netflix’s latest binge-worthy show is the surprisingly thoughtful British dark-comedy “Baby Reindeer.”

Written, produced, and starring Richard Gadd and based on his own life story, the limited series follows flailing comedian Donny Dunn who becomes entangled with a female stalker named Martha (Jessica Gunning).

While it begins as an unserious game of cat and mouse, the series goes on to force viewers to face our preconceived notions about gender-based violence, sexual assault, and who we have empathy for. Donny struggles to get a grip on the situation and his stand-up career, but as Martha’s antics escalate, he is forced to face the traumas he’s buried.

The premise, at first, is laughable and reads as a straight-up comedy. Donny offers tea to a woman who comes into the pub he works at and she becomes infatuated with him, dubbing him a “Baby Reindeer.” It feels like just a silly, intense crush, even to Donny, playing off the societal norm that a woman can’t really stalk a man. No one takes the threat of Martha seriously, even Donny himself, who downplays it in his head because if he’s honest with himself, some part of him likes the ego boost.

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He’s also dating Teri, a trans woman played by Nava Mau. She’s an American therapist with a hero complex who Donny quickly becomes infatuated with. When they first met online, Donny lied to Teri about his name and job, preferring anonymous sex to intimacy. He comes across as a f*ckboi and a pathological liar not worth wasting time on. But the show’s shocking revelations show the troubling reasons why Danny is the way he is, diving deep into the darkest parts of how sexual assault and shame can warp one’s sense of self, identity, and even sexuality.

Without giving too much away about the plot, the series features surprisingly nuanced transgender and bisexual characters and includes a moving coming out. It’s especially refreshing to see a trans character have agency, desires, and be treated with respect in a story juggling such dark themes. But “Baby Reindeer” isn’t for the faint of heart. The show’s fourth episode features a graphic depiction of sexual assault and self-harm.

The road to recovery isn’t easy for Donny, whose shame has overpowered every other feeling. But can he heal – himself or his stalker – before it’s too late? Deeply moving and profound, “Baby Reindeer” will haunt you after viewing.

This article originally appeared on Out.com, and is shared here as part of an LGBTQ+ community exchange between Q Voice News and Equal Pride.

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Taylor Henderson

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