On September 21, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” a recounting of the serial murderer Jeffery Dahmer’s life, became available on Netflix.
The ten-episode series, which was created by Ryan Murphy (the man behind “Glee,” “Pose,” and “American Horror Story”) and stars Evan Peters as Dahmer, offers viewers a close-up look at Dahmer’s life, his victims, and the police system that let him get away for so long.
I’m interested in actual crime, so I’ve been listening to many podcasts and reading about the case for a while now, so I already know a lot about Jeffrey Dahmer. I had anticipated that most of the facts in the new series would be things I already knew and that it would be at best poor like all of the other actual crime reenactment shows. For want of a better term, this show was horrific. When was I last seeing something so intensely distressing, irritating, and heartbreaking?
I had a genuinely horrible time watching this series, and if I hadn’t been doing it for this review, I would have stopped watching it after the second episode. Although this is a real crime reenactment and these events are crucial to presenting the complete tale, there was no need to witness that much of it repeatedly. There was a lot of emphasis on the ferocity of his acts. Family members have expressed concern about the graphic reenactments of the victims’ killings, with many claiming that the show retraumatized them.
The scene in which Rita Isbell, Errol Lindsey’s sister, presented her victim impact statement following the trial is arguably one of the most distressing in the entire series. In her impact statement, she expressed her rage and disgust for Dahmer very dramatically. Without Isbell’s consent, the series replicated this tremendously intense and emotional moment of conflict for entertainment. They didn’t just copy it; they crafted a duplicate of it that was practically verbatim to the impact statement she had originally made. Isbell was disturbed by this, and she publicly complained that no one had sought her consent before including her impact statement in the show.
This series’ casting was flawless in every way. Ryan Murphy is no stranger to historically accurate casting, having previously done multiple true tale reenactments, including a recounting of the life of OJ Simpson and the murder of Gianni Versace. The casting of real tale reenactments is one of the most crucial aspects since it determines the audience’s initial impression of the production. One is entirely removed from the viewing experience when an actor appears to be a stranger to the character they are meant to be portraying. However, I am unable to say the same about Dahmer, and in my opinion, the casting was perhaps too excellent.
While the violence in the show was highly excessive and the focus of most of the episodes, it also highlighted how the Milwaukee police force was careless in letting Dahmer get away for so long. It demonstrated how, despite objections from onlookers who had a suspicion Dahmer was lying, the police returned one of Dahmer’s victims, fourteen-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone, to Dahmer. The series demonstrates how the Milwaukee police department’s homophobia and racism let this occur as well as how they enabled the killings of other homosexual Black and Brown men to go unreported.
I believe that while discussing genuine crime, the police are frequently portrayed as the “good guys” who put up great effort to get the murderer. This was not the case with Dahmer, and it is crucial to demonstrate that the police did not give this problem top priority while it was ongoing. I wouldn’t advise anyone to watch this series. It is extremely disturbing and needlessly gory, and just the fact that it exists has caused a great deal of suffering for the families concerned. These real crime reenactments make excellent sense in principle, but when done poorly, they cause far more harm than good.