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Dahmer Series Retraumatized Victims, Netflix Faces Backlash

The new Jeffrey Dahmer series makes us wonder, how many movies, shows and documentaries do we need?

Netflix’s Monster is definitely not a show for the faint of heart. Describing the origins and some of the worst murders of the Milwaukee Monster, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, from the get-go, one can imagine it to be terrifying. 

Dahmer is a true crime biopic ten-episode show written and produced by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan (Glee, American Horror Story, Scream Queens).

Eric Perry, the cousin of Jeffrey Dahmer victim Errol Lindsey, expressed discomfort with the show. “I’m not telling anyone what to watch, I know true crime media is huge right now, but if you’re actually curious about the victims, my family (the Isbells) are pissed about this show. It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”

An issue stated by Perry regarding the development of the series is that because the murders are public records, producers of true crime shows don’t need to notify the families of the victims they portray. In particular, he complained that no one from ‘Monster’ reached out to his family, and by the time they found out, it had already been released.

New Jeffrey Dahmer series

© Netflix

Despite these shows being marketed as produced concerning the victims or honouring the dignity of the families, no one took the time to contact them. 

Perry mentioned how his cousins had been woken up with calls and messages to tell them there was a show under development. On the other hand, the show’s producers have defended against these accusations, stating how the goal was not to glamorize nor humanize Dahmer but to provide perspective to the victims and explain the ways that race and sexuality inform the killings.

The team had a rule from Ryan Murphy, which was that the story would never be told from Dahmer’s point of view and would focus on the repercussions, specifically how the system failed to stop him several times due to racism and homophobia. However, the victims’ families are adamant that the creation of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story was retraumatizing. 

A Twitter user replied to one of the threads stating that many serial killers engage in horrifying killings for attention and fame and that making a hundred Netflix shows glorifying serial killers won’t help matters.

Rita Isbell wrote a first-person essay for Insider and stated that watching the scene showing herself during Dahmer’s trial was like reliving it all over again and bringing back all the emotions she felt back then. She expressed how she felt like Netflix should’ve asked if they minded or how they felt about making the show.

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