Baby Reindeer: Is Teri Based on Richard Gadd’s Real Girlfriend?

With Netflix’s ‘Baby Reindeer’ delving deep into the tale of struggling comic Donny Dunn as he finds himself with a stalker, we get an original that can only be described as disturbing and emotionally confusing. That’s because while the latter started out as someone he merely offered a free cup of tea to because he felt sorry for her, she quickly became a permanent fixture in his life owing to unwavering fascination. Though little did he know he’d soon subconsciously begin reacting to it to such an extent it’d make him unable to fall head over heels in love with his nearly ideal partner, a trans woman by the name of Teri.

Teri Isn’t Entirely Fictional

While it’s true some aspects of Teri might not have been derived from a real person, considering the complexities of her personality and her unwavering fierceness, she isn’t entirely fictional either. After all, since this seven-part original production is based on the eponymous one-man stage play that creator Richard Gadd (Donald Dunn) penned upon taking inspiration from his own experiences, it holds a lot of truth in it. Amongst it is the fact that he dated a trans woman while struggling not just to make a name for himself in the entertainment industry but also in terms of his sexuality owing to former abuse and his stalker.

According to Richard’s own narrative, he did go on a lot of meaningless dates and engaged in a lot of meaningless intercourse while trying to figure out where he stood, only for things to change once he met an unidentified trans woman. She could banter with him, pull his leg, and keep up with his weirdness in every way imaginable, but he simply couldn’t let himself be with her owing to things going on in his life and maybe even his own internal prejudices. He actually candidly told the Independent that while Danny’s entire relationship with Teri does draw on aspects from his own life, it should be taken into account that the time was different back then – that there was way less cultural awareness around trans individuals, even within the wider queer community.

“It’s in the public consciousness now, but it wasn’t back then when I was dating,” Richard said. “It felt so new that it added a certain pressure to me that I really regret now. But that’s what it explores in the show. This story was set back in a time when things were very different.” He thus credits trans actress-filmmaker Nava Mau, who portrays Teri as a key figure amongst others, for helping him build her character. “We had all kinds of advisors – diversity advisors, trans advisors – to make sure that what we were doing was gonna be the right thing,” he expressed. “But not in a way where the art felt compromised or anything was watered down.”

Moreover, Nava herself has since indicated that Teri is the first trans character she has ever come across who feels like they’ve been written by someone with a similar real-life connection. That’s because while there are various shades of grey in the entire narrative, the ways things have been managed are tasteful, layered, and vulnerable, all the while being brutally honest. Whether it be accusations about looking male-like, intimacy troubles, or disgusting stereotypes, they’re all a part of this tale, and they’re all sadly real in regard to things trans individuals have to face daily in real life.

However, the way Teri’s chapter is concluded – with her seemingly finding a true companion in someone else entirely after teaching Donny he could feel love – ignites a spark of inspiration. This is something all viewers desperately need by the end upon witnessing precisely how poor mental health can lead people to do terrible things even if they aren’t inherently bad themselves. All people want is some love and care in this world, and that’s precisely what every single character portrays in this unequivocal original.

Read More: Baby Reindeer: Is The Heart a Real Pub in London?