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Seven Reasons ‘Baby Reindeer’ Earned All That Hype


“Baby Reindeer” is this year’s “Tiger King,” and it didn’t need a global pandemic to forge its fame.

The seven-episode Netflix series is a heady blend of fact and fiction that has audiences riveted. Even horror maestro Stephen King.

Star/creator Richard Gadd used his life experiences to fuel the tale of a sad sack comedian named Donny and his relentless stalker (Jessica Gunning of “The Outlaws” fame).

The show is a smash, and the numbers speak for themselves.

In its third week on the platform, Baby Reindeer racked up 18.6 million views (from 29 April to 5 May). This takes its total to 56.5 million views in just 26 days.

The series now needs just 27 million more views in the next 65 days of its 91-day premiere window to enter the top 10 most-watched Netflix shows of all time, joining the ranks of Stranger Things and Wednesday.

How did the series slice through the media noise?

Word of Mouth Rules (Especially in Our Digital Age)

Some stories must be shared. Think “The Greatest Showman,” the 2017 flop-turned smash. That film opened to a weak $8.8 million, but people kept spreading the word about the Hugh Jackman musical.

The final tally? $174 million stateside.

Word. Of. Mouth.

The same is happening with “Baby Reindeer.” Social media allows that word to spread like wildfire.

Truth, Fiction and the Fuzzy Middle

Gadd spun the series from his fact-based one-man show. Creative license is always in play, but the thrust of the story actually happened. Or, at least, key details haven’t been debunked.

Yet.

That only intensified the public’s curiosity about the show and its real-life counterparts. Who is the shady scribe who took advantage of our hero? Will the real Martha (not her actual name) stand up and rebut some of Gadd’s allegations?

The 1999 smash “The Blair Witch Project” pretended the horror yarn sprung from real-life tragedy. It was a marketing gimmick, but it proved a promotional miracle for the indie film. There’s enough reality to “Baby Reindeer” to make audiences even more curious about its origins.

There’s Nothing Quite Like It on TV

Hollywood keeps hitting “shuffle” on its IP library.

“Lord of the Rings.” “Maze Runner.” “Garfield.” “Inside Out.” “Moana.” “Popeye.” “Transformers.” “Superman.”

The list is endless, and audiences are increasingly starved for new stories. “Baby Reindeer” delivers just that, down to its inscrutable title. It’s fresh, uncomfortable at times and always compelling.

We don’t know the characters, situations or backstories. How rare. How refreshing.

The Devil Is in the Details

Gadd leaves everything on the screen in “Baby Reindeer.” We learn the intricacies of his stand-up persona, down to his loud suits and silly prop suitcase. Tiny details are everywhere on the series, from the quirks of each secondary character to Gadd’s revealing narration.

It’s what makes a story pop … the morsel-sized moments that speak to our common humanity.

Gadd and Gunning

“Baby Reindeer” doesn’t work without two stellar performances. Gadd is the show’s writer and director, which means he knows the material better than anyone possibly could.

His direct line to Donny’s dilemma gives him a unique perspective, and the performance is never less than stunning. The word “brave” is thrown around glibly in Hollywood, but Gadd strips down to the essence of his on-screen character in ways we rarely see.

Gunning is just as good.

Martha is hard-charging and sweet, romantic and bitter. You can see why she drives Donny mad one moment, and then reveals a soul so bruised you forgive her for almost anything.

Gunning doesn’t press too far in any one direction, but Martha’s cunning reveals a satisfyingly sick intellect that stays one step ahead of Donny

Always.

Gadd and Gunning are nothing less than magical together.

We’re Obsessed with Obsession

Stalkers often terrify the person being followed. The twist in “Baby Reindeer” is twofold. Martha can’t overpower Donny like the average man can to a woman he’s stalking. That shakes up the power dynamic.

More importantly, Donny wants nothing to do with Martha … until he does. Their relationship is as complicated as anything on TV. Martha’s charm can be infectious, and she knows exactly how to make Donny feel better about himself.

She’s oddly wise, and he’s broken in a way that makes him vulnerable to her flirtations. By the end, he seems more obsessed with her than she is with him.

What could be more fascinating than that? 





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