Controversy surrounds Netflix’s Jeffrey Dahmer Series

by Ten Bottemiller

<warning: article contains some sensitive content>

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, also known as just Dahmer, has gained the attention of millions of viewers since it premiered on September 21. It became one of the most popular shows on Netflix, reaching #1 in “Trending” in the first days of its release. The popularity spread to social media as well, trending on Twitter and achieving a huge following on TikTok. 

Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer who committed acts of pedophilia and sexual assault, as well as necrophilia, cannibalism, and the preservation of body parts of his victims. His main victims were young queer men of color, some underage. He ended up killing 17 men between 1978 and 1991. The Dahmer series is essentially a reenactment of Dahmer’s early life and murders. Jeffrey Dahmer (played by Evan Peters) is shown from his early life to his appearance in court. 

The reception of the show has been both good and bad. Many people believe it’s interesting since they get to know more about the killer’s mindset, but negative criticism from viewers, as well as the victims’ family members, may outweigh that. 

Family members of Dahmer’s victims are upset about the recreation of the crimes. It’s only natural people directly involved with the lost victims wouldn’t be happy with the series. Eric Perry, relative of Dahmer victim Errol Lindsey, posted on Twitter about the series being “retraumatizing” and asking “How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?” In an interview with Insider, Rita Isbell, Lindsey’s sister, said seeing herself in the show bothered her. “If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought it was me. Her hair was like mine, she had on the same clothes,” Isbell said. “That’s why it felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then.” She goes on to call out Netflix for profiting off of their trauma and not even giving any of the revenue to the victims’ families. “It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed.”

Trends on social media, especially TikTok, are disrespectful to victims. Some TikTok creators expressed that they didn’t feel the show was enough. They thought the scenes depicting the tragedies weren’t extreme enough. The creators’ posts came off in a way that made them seem desensitized to gore, sparking arguments platform-wide. Others started calling out the creators and saying they don’t have enough empathy for the victims. In addition to this, fans of Evan Peters all over social media are calling Peters hot or attractive in the role. Other TikTok creators believe it’s insensitive to call somebody portraying a serial killer attractive and fans can admire his looks in any of his other roles. 

Netflix put Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story in the LGBTQ+ section. When it premiered, Dahmer was put under the LGBTQ+ tag on Netflix. The immediate response was overwhelmingly negative. Dahmer was paired with popular queer TV shows like Heartstopper and Queer Eye. While Jeffrey Dahmer was technically a queer man, many felt it was insensitive to put the series under the tag and LGBTQ+ viewers didn’t want to be represented like that by a huge company. Fortunately, Netflix removed Dahmer from the category roughly two days after its release, but viewers still question the original notion to put it there. 

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