Louis Theroux’s shocking real life documentary Tell Them You Love Me tops Netflix chart and called 'new Baby Reindeer'

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27 Jun 2024, 12:49

Louis Theroux’s shocking real life documentary Tell Them You Love Me tops Netflix chart and is called 'new Baby Reindeer'

Credit: Getty / Netflix

Move over, Baby Reindeer. There's a new toe-curling TV offering on the way. Louis Theroux’s shocking real life documentary Tell Them You Love Me has flown to the top of the US Netflix chart.

The project, set in New Jersey, tells the unbelievable true story of married American Professor Anna Stubblefield, then 39, who met Derrick Johnson, then 28, who has cerebral palsy and the mental age of an 18-month-old child.

In 2009, his family had hoped that her 'expertise in communication' would help the nearly mute man to communicate using a keypad, but their relationship soon became sexual. His horrified family were unsure he had consented to anything as Stubblefield was 'driving his thoughts on the keypad'.



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Documentary maker Louis told The Sun about the Netflix US smash hit: “At its heart is a mystery — whether two people were in a Romeo and Juliet love story or whether it is a horrific crime. I think its success speaks to how powerful and emotionally complex the story is.

"You never quite know where it will go next. It was nearly ten years ago that I first came across this story. It was a struggle to get the film commissioned."

Tell Me You Love Me

Credit: Netflix

Louis added: “It shows films you might think are risky or troubling or ‘difficult’ can also be compelling and reach a big audience.”

Stubblefield was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault and got 12 years, but the conviction was overturned after two years.

Executive producer Arron Fellows added: “Its success shows how captivated audiences are by real-life stories, even sensitive ones.”

Louis Theroux

Credit: Getty / The Sun

“I came to this story originally via a New York Times article, maybe 10 years ago, and I was riveted by it,” Theroux told Tudum. “It sat on the fault lines of so many big social questions — around race, sexuality, and, yes, disability.” 

The Netflix film includes interviews with Stubblefield, mother Daisy Johnson, brother John Johnson, facilitated communication advocate Rosemary Crossley, and Dr. Howard Shane, director of Boston Children’s Center for Communication Enhancement, their 'affair' and the trial that followed.