Monster: Families of Victims Criticize Dahmer Story


Poster courtesy of Netflix.

Over the past month, Netflix’s new release, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, retells Dahmer’s life story starring Evan Peters. The show has garnered massive popularity across the country as the latest installment in a line of Dahmer-themed entertainment. However, despite the show’s popularity, it has received considerable backlash.

Critics have questioned why society is shining a light on a serial killer that targeted black and brown men, allowing the discussion to be pushed back to systematic racism. Monster: A Jeffrey Dahmer Story’s controversy signifies a growing problem in crime TV regarding the treatment of real-life victims.

Rita Isbell, the sister of one of Dahmer’s victims, Errol Lindsay, wrote a personal essay shortly after the release of the show, “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”. Her cousin, Eric Perry, tweeted in a viral tweet, “It’s re-traumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”

Actual Crime TV has benefits because it serves an educational purpose to the viewer. However, the growing popularity of the genre is doing more harm than good, as many producers have become so focused on getting views that they have glamorized serial killers. It is also disrespectful to the victims and their families, especially if they do not give consent.

I am not against watching actual crime TV, but we should watch it while keeping in mind that the portrayed characters are real people with real emotions and authentic experiences. I advise people to watch for educational purposes and not just for entertainment. I am a fan of True Crime TV, and I have noticed that there is a pattern of almost romanticizing the criminals, and I often forget that these stories actually happened and are not just fiction. I am not trying to reprimand True Crime TV viewers for losing sight of the reality because I do it myself, which I admit to. I am simply reminding others, and myself, that it is essential to keep the experiences of real people involved in mind when watching these tv shows and movies.