The New Jeffery Dahmer Series on Netflix Is the Most Controversial Show in 2022

Tom A.

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story debuted September 21 on Netflix and has been the subject of mixed reviews. The show is a disturbing look into Dahmer’s life from childhood until he was murdered by a fellow prison inmate. Even though the show has been received positively by many, it has also drawn a lot of controversy.

The series skillfully highlights how creepy and strange Dahmer is even as a little boy. It shows him killing tadpoles and playing with roadkill as a child as well as unsettling social interactions with his parents and grandma. Although some people believe it is an accurate representation of the killer and a tribute to the victims, many disagree. In fact, several victims said it was retraumatizing to watch and felt disrespected. Despite the controversy and victim impact, the series highlights current problems like racism and homophobia that are really important to understanding the full story. 

Among the heaviest critics of the series are the victims’ families, who believe it was retraumatizing. In particular, they were not happy with how the killer was portrayed and that the victims’ families were not consulted. Rita Isbell, the sister of Errol Lindsey, one of Dahmer’s victims says, “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.” 

Anne Schwartz, one of the reporters that covered the tragedies after Dahmer was caught, says the series “sacrificed accuracy for the sake of drama.” She also says the series’ “depiction of city police officers as racist and homophobic was incorrect.” These claims by Schwartz have made viewers feel the series is just trying to profit off of the tragedies rather than honor the victims.

Notwithstanding the disparate opinions of those close to the victims and Dahmer’s atrocities, the show is appealing as a true crime series detailing Dahmer’s mental health issues and how his parents tried to reconcile them with his actions. The intense and disturbing stories will keep any  fans of the docu-drama genre on the edge of their seat.

Not only will true crime fans enjoy the show, it also may appeal to people with an interest in understanding the social issues underpinning Dahmer’s crimes. The show calls attention to problems like racism and homophobia., accentuating that Dahmer targeted Black gay men because he felt he could get away with it more easily. He uses homophobic phrases like “it’s just gay stuff” as an excuse to encourage people who are suspicious look the other way. The series also highlights how bias within the justice system led to undeserved leniency which allowed Dahmer to avoid arrest and conviction for so long.

The first season of Monster was one of the most successful Netflix series with over 930 million viewing hours since its release. It was so popular the series has been renewed for two more seasons on Netflix which Ryan Murphy the producer of the series says the next seasons will “tell the stories of other monstrous figures who have impacted society.” Many people have speculated John Wayne Gacy to be the next season’s focus because of the way he was incorporated into season one.