Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is Netflix’s newest true-crime series, and it uses the serial killer’s surname twice in the title. Of course, there are many who think the Milwaukee murderer shouldn’t be getting so much press.
Dahmer is currently the most popular Netflix original, but it hasn’t been without its fair share of criticism. What follows is a breakdown of that sentence.
Dahmer: The Basics
Even while we know that Jeffrey Dahmer existed, his crimes appear nearly unbelievable for their level of heinousness. He was born in Milwaukee in 1960, but his turbulent childhood included an early fascination with cadavers and dissection.
Then, beginning in 1978, he spent the next 13 years murdering and dismembering 17 men and boys, before engaging in acts of necrophilia, cannibalism, and the preservation of body parts and bones. In 1991, he was apprehended and given 17 consecutive life sentences for various crimes. In 1994, another prisoner fatally assaulted Dahmer.
The 10 episodes skip about from Dahmer’s traumatic upbringing to his murderous career to his eventual capture.
The series depicts not just the horrific killings committed by Dahmer, but also how the Milwaukee police ignored the concerns of Dahmer’s neighbors.
When one of Dahmer’s victims, a little kid who had been maimed and drugged, tried to flee the house of horrors, two police officers actually brought him back.
The show is unsettling to watch and frequently graphic. Metacritic gives it a mixed or average rating after nearly a week on Netflix, with people giving it a mostly positive assessment.
As Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter noted in his review, “Here, Jeffrey Dahmer’s misdeeds, the actual individuals be affected, and the repercussions of those actions are thoughtfully examined, after having undergone a different editing process. It is often misunderstood or forgotten.”
Episode six, “Silenced,” has been singled out as a high point of the series by critics like Fienberg. The story centers on Tony Hughes, one of the victims Dahmer murdered.
The series “is giving voice to somebody whose voice has too frequently been removed from gawking serial killer depictions” because “Tony was deaf” and “in placing a Black, deaf, queer character at the heart of the narrative,” as Fienberg puts it.
Unfortunately, “Silenced is the exception rather than the rule,” as Variety’s Caroline Framke puts it, and not all of the episodes are as well-done.
Who Plays Jeffrey Dahmer?
Evan Peters, who has been in numerous episodes of American Horror Story and who currently portrays Quicksilver in the MCU, plays Dahmer. Director Ryan Murphy, who also co-created American Horror Story and Dahmer, is reuniting with Peters in Dahmer.
Dahmer Features Two Iconic Actors
Dahmer’s grandmother Catherine is played by Michael Learned, best known as rural mom Olivia Walton on The Waltons. It stars a star from the 1980s as well as the 1970s icon Learned.
Dahmer’s stepmother Shari is portrayed by John Hughes alum Molly Ringwald. To the point where she’s unrecognizable to you.
Richard Jenkins plays Dahmer’s father, Lionel, in the show. Glenda Cleveland, Dahmer’s apartment neighbor, is portrayed by Niecy Nash. Cleveland does everything she can to get the Milwaukee police to investigate the awful odors and noises coming from Dahmer’s apartment.
The Controversial Reaction to Dahmer
The victims of any true-crime show may worry that the show is glorifying the criminal. The Sister of one of Dahmer’s victims, Errol Lindsey (Rita Isbell), spoke with Insider about the show.
At Dahmer’s original 1992 sentencing, she delivered an impassioned victim impact statement that is depicted in the show.
Despite Insider’s best efforts, “I was never contacted about the show,” Isbell said. “The folks at Netflix should have checked with us to see if we minded or how we felt about making it.
No one from the company bothered to ask me any questions. In other words, they went ahead and did it.”
Some social media users have expressed regret that the show’s title includes a character with the same name twice, while others have asked that the victims be honored instead.
Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story has been released on Netflix in its entirety.