Ryan Murphy’s series, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, is one of the most-watched series to have ever hit Netflix, but it hasn’t been without controversy. The show tells the true story of the Milwaukee Monster told from the perspective of the victims and police incompetence that allowed the Wisconsin native to go on a multiyear killing spree. Not only was he one of the worst serial killers of all time, but he cannibalized his victims, adding a much more disturbing layer to his crimes.
The show has been criticized online for glorifying real-life serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, and some family members of his victims have spoken out, claiming the series is retraumatizing and capitalizes on others’ tragedy without involving them in the project.
Murphy alluded to the controversy surrounding the hit Netflix show at an event at Los Angeles’ DGA Theatre on Thursday, saying the subject matter “is something that we researched for a very long time.” He explained:
“Over the course of the three, three and a half years when we were really writing it, working on it, we reached out to 20, around 20 of the victims’ families and friends, trying to get input, trying to talk to people, and not a single person responded to us in that process. So we relied very, very heavily on our incredible group of researchers who… I don’t even know how they found a lot of this stuff. But it was just like a night and day effort trying to uncover the truth of these people.”
However, several of the families of Dahmer’s victims have spoken out against the Netflix series for recreating their real-life trauma. Rita Isbell, whose brother Errol Lindsey was murdered by Dahmer in 1991, wrote in an essay for Insider revealing that the show “bothered” her, writing, “It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy.”
“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.”
Shirley Hughes, whose son Tony Hughes was also killed by Dahmer in 1991, told The Guardian, “I don’t see how they can do that. I don’t see how they can use our names and put stuff out like that out there.”
It’s a slippery slope when the cases explored are as recent as 30 years ago, and their families are still alive. I personally couldn’t bring myself to watch the series. I typically enjoy true crime content as a self-proclaimed murderino, but after watching the trailer, I knew my stomach wasn’t going to be able to handle it.