Confused by Martha's signature sign-off in Baby Reindeer? Here's what a psychologist thinks

Baby Reindeer follows a man working at a bar who grows close to a customer, leading to a dangerous relationship.
Baby Reindeer
Baby Reindeer /

Netflix Original Baby Reindeer has totally absorbed TV lovers since its premiere on April 11, following an aspiring comedian named Donny Dunn living in London. The protagonist is a fictionalized version of the show's creator Richard Gadd, who based the series off of his one-man show of the same name. As captivating as the seven-episode show is, it makes it all the more impactful knowing that it's based on a true story. Unfortunately, Gadd was stalked by a woman for years, and he is a victim of sexual assault. Baby Reindeer is an emotional, unflinching look at dealing with grief on your own.

Baby Reindeer begins with Donny working at a bar, where he meets a customer named Martha (played by Jessica Gunning). Although Donny finds Martha to be a bit strange, he's also seemingly intrigued by her quirkiness and enjoys talking to her. It's evident that both characters are lonely, and they find companionship through their long conversations at the bar. Donny picks up pretty quickly that Martha lies about aspects of her life, but at the start, he doesn't seem to mind. Martha is a welcome distraction from other things in his life...until she isn't.

Though you could say both Donny and Martha become attached to one another, Martha forms an unhealthy obsession that leads to stalking. Through repeated messages ranging from weird to absolutely unhinged and even threatening, Donny becomes increasingly uncomfortable around Martha. Before getting his phone number, Martha finds Donny on Facebook and begins sending him emails. The series shows Martha's words onscreen as if the viewer were receiving them, putting the unnerving messages on full display. What might be confusing at first is why every email ends with "Sent from my iPhone," despite Martha not using an iPhone.

Baby Reindeer
Baby Reindeer /

Why does Martha write "Sent from my iPhone" on her emails?

No, that's not an error on the show's part. Martha manually types "Sent from my iPhone" at the end of every email as her signature, even though she never sends messages from an iPhone. It doesn't seem like she even owns an iPhone. So why does she do that? Well, LAD Bible spoke with a psychologist named Dannielle Haig, who offered up a potential explanation of Martha's motivations.

"Her 40,000 emails, marked by this false signature, are [a] testament not only to her obsession with Donny, but possibly to her inability to reconcile with her new reality," Haig explains. "The sign-off is less about the actual device and more about what it represents: a sense of belonging to a professional class and a world where she was respected and successful. It is an attempt to project an image of stability and normalcy in contrast to her current life."

As you'll remember if you watched Baby Reindeer, Martha has a law degree and worked as a lawyer before becoming exposed as a stalker and losing her career. Donny researches her and the internet is full of headlines about the woman, who stalked multiple people before moving on to him.

"Signing off [Martha's] emails with 'Sent from my iPhone' despite not owning one may serve as a symbolic link to her former status."

Psychologist Dannielle Haig
Baby Reindeer
Baby Reindeer /

Haig says that Martha's sign-off, which later is frequently misspelled as she frantically writes her incriminating messages, could be an "insistence on a fictional narrative" that she is still a professional, successful woman. This narrative Martha puts on about her life "showcases the psychological complexities of coping with downfall," according to Haig. As dark as it all is, this explanation makes total sense.

Gadd himself has not weighed in on why Martha signs off with "Sent from my iPhone" in each message, but we have to assume Haig's explanation is at least partly true. Given Martha's repeated lies about her life, it's obvious she's trying to keep up an appearance that is not actually her reality.

There's a lot to dissect about the characters' behavior in Baby Reindeer, making it all the more thought-provoking to watch. If you haven't checked it out yet, you can watch all seven episodes right now on Netflix. But just make sure to read the trigger warnings before binging.

[h/t: LAD Bible]

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