Dahmer: A New Netflix Controversy

The Release of Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story incites backlash

Dahmer: A New Netflix Controversy

Miles Brockbank, Contributor

A new release on Netflix has caused substantial issues for the popular streaming site. The show, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, depicts the crimes and murders committed by Jeffrey Dahmer, ranging from his pursuits of 17 young men to his arrest and trial. Since its release on September 23, Monster has become one of the most popular picks for viewers to watch on Netflix, but controversy followed close behind. 

With regard to Critics’ opinions, reviews were mixed. Vulture and The Hollywood Reporter had positive things to say about the show, while Vanity and Vanity Fair were not impressed, leaving negative reviews. However, in terms of watch time, Monster amassed over 300 million hours of viewership, sitting at the top of the English TV List for two weeks straight. Also, the show was in Netflix’s Top 10 in 92 countries during its first week after release. 

Many critics have approached the show asking if it was really necessary to revisit this particular killer, who targeted mostly young Black men. This criticism stems from the idea that systemic racism helped Dahmer to continue killing his victims. Additionally, members of the LGBTQ community were outraged that Netflix tagged the series as “LGBTQ” content, arguing that the only representation they receive is that of a murderer. However, the label was removed swiftly after complaints began.

Also, some family members of Dahmer’s victims spoke out that the series’ story and graphic depictions had re-traumatized them. Rita Isbell is the sister of one of Dahmer’s Victims, Errol Linsdey. In a personal essay for Insider, Isbell wrote that she was “bothered” by the part of the show that she watched. In addition, Isbell stated, “I was never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it … But I’m not money hungry, and that’s what this show is about, Netflix trying to get paid.” 

Danica Terk, ’23, gave her perspective on the show: “I started the show, but I couldn’t even make it through the first episode.” Danica added, “it was so scary to see how he lured and attacked his victims, I just couldn’t watch.” The show is undoubtedly an unsettling experience for many, whether for the relatives of Dahmer’s victims or unrelated students, but many questions remain. Why didn’t Netflix contact the people that they were portraying in the show, nor ask for permission? More importantly, why did Netflix choose to revisit such a dark string of racist, pedophilic, and cruel murders?