Arts and Entertainment

Review: Netflix’s ‘Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’ sparks internet upheaval

Netflix's new original TV show about a serial killer, Jeffery Dahmer, raises controversy online regarding concerns over the sensitivity of victims' families and the alleged fetishization of killers.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/beckymontes005/" target="_self"> </a>

December 29, 2022
In the midst of Netflix’s September movie and TV show releases, the much-anticipated story of the serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, played by “American Horror Story” star, Evan Peters, quickly turned into one of the most controversial series in Netflix history. Released on September 21st, the public was soon to binge-watch the ten-part series, each around 40 to 60 minutes long. The series follows Jeffrey Dahmer living out his 30s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin while at the same time scouting out his murder victims. As documentaries and movies were made regarding his early life and primarily focused on him, this series gives voice to his victims and the victims’ families.

Only after a few days, viewers began to wonder if the victim’s families were made aware of scenes depicted in the series. In the episode titled, “Lionel”, a trial was held for Jeffrey’s murder sentence and during it, the victim’s families took the stand. One specific witness, Rita Isbell, sister of one of Dahmer’s victims, Errol Lindsey, took the stand to express great disgust towards Jeffrey. Similar to real-life events, Rita becomes frustrated at Jeffrey’s sight and utters, “Let me show you what out of control is. This is out of control” and proceeds to be detained by the guards at the courthouse. 

Viewers soon went online and questioned whether Rita Isbell was made aware of this scene and if she gave consent for the series to reenact it word for word. Rita went on Insider to explain what exactly went through her mind hearing it for the first time. She claimed that Netflix never contacted her about the making of the series and didn’t plan on watching because she lived through it and believes it was wrong for Netflix not to contact any of the victim’s families to make sure they were comfortable with it or at least given monetary compensation. Overall she believed that the series brought up the past she had finally moved on from though in a way was beneficial to her because now feels as if her anger could be directed in a different light, with more forgiveness. 

Other critics of the series lie within how these types of shows follow the lives of serial killers, oftentimes romanticizing them and inciting sympathy. On the social media platform, TikTok users are creating edits that highlight Jeffrey Dahmer in a sexual light, though this is mainly due to the actor, Evan Peters being claimed as attractive. Users on the app became aware of this odd observation when videos attained millions of views. Even though it is not necessarily the series’ fault for the fetishization of serial killers, it is partly on Netflix’s behalf that they contribute to the mass media regarding the serial killer apologist phenomenon. 

The general criticisms the series harbors are ultimately well-deserved as the parties involved weren’t informed by Netflix and deserve to be fully compensated for any trouble or hardship the release of the new series brought up. As well as viewers holding the audience and entertainment industries accountable for the fetishization of corrupt and deranged individuals that in the long run profit off of the pain and suffering of others.