Baby Reindeer: Is Darrien O’Connor a Real Person? Is Cotton Mouth an Actual Show?

If there’s one thing nobody can deny, it’s that Netflix’s ‘Baby Reindeer’ shines a true light upon the complexities that arise when there’s a connection between the abused and their abuser. After all, it revolves around struggling comic Donny Dunn as he finds himself with a stalker following an act of kindness, forcing him to face the mentor-handed sexual traumas of his past too. Though while Martha Scott did elicit some modicum of sympathy owing to her mental instability, the atrocious offenses of Darrien O’Connor are unforgivable in every way, shape, and form.

Darrien O’Connor is Fictional to an Extent

Since Richard Gadd (who portrays Donny) created this original series from a one-man show he’d penned to make sense of his own real-life experiences, all the characters within do hold some truth. In other words, yes, this Scottish actor-comedian-writer was unfortunately assaulted by an established industry professional while he was just starting out and trying to make a name for himself. And that ultimately resulted in him spilling out, struggling with not only hard drugs but also his sexual identity, as well as sympathizing with his stalker when he should’ve been raising the alarms.

However, Richard has always been careful in ensuring that the actual identities of his abusers remain utterly private — he doesn’t want to give them the satisfaction of publicity in any manner. This means that although the characters of Martha and Darrien (not to be confused with actor Darren O’Conner) have been derived from individuals he truly encountered, they aren’t totally real. Nevertheless, he still chose to underscore them through a stage play and then this production because he needed everyone to explore the corrosive, depressive effect their actions had on him.

Why? “Because sexual assault is an instant, but abuse lasts a lifetime,” Richard once said. In another interview way back in 2016, he also told Fife Today that “The darkness I was in [following the things I endured at the hands of the man I considered a friend, a mentor, plus an aid in comedy as well as writing]… I cannot tell you how bad it felt… The worst thing my abuser did was take my confidence away from me.” That’s because he did indeed draw the former into his apartment under the pretense of writing a TV script, only to then take him on days-long drug benders to assault him before growing cold, distant, and professional again. He reportedly took so much from Richard that he couldn’t even bring himself to report it.

Cotton Mouth Isn’t a Real Show

In the aforementioned series, Donny first comes across renowned comedy television writer Darrien in a members-only bar by sheer chance before they connect over a show titled ‘Cotton Mouth.’ Yet, it isn’t until the latter reveals his name that the struggling entertainer realizes he’s talking to the actual writer/the brains behind this production he was satirically dissing by complimenting just its actors. But alas, it turns out this show doesn’t exist — there are a few short as well as feature-length films by the same name, including a 2020 horror short, a 2016 dystopian sci-fi comedy, and an old action film that’s set way back in 1895, yet none of them hold any resemblance to the one they speak of.

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