Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story- did Netflix take it too far?

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Illustration of the infamous serial killer curtesy of BHS student

With half of a billion viewing hours, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, a drama capturing the horrors of the Milwaukee Monster’s crimes has rapidly become one of Netflix’s most watched series ever. The series, starring American Horror Story’s Evan Peters, shows the American serial killer’s infamous crimes in vivid and disturbing detail. The show follows Jeffery Dahmer as he attempts to progress through young adulthood with the chilling secret that he has murdered, mutilated, and molested seventeen young men and boys in both Ohio and Wisconsin over the span of thirteen years. With such raw and graphic content in addition to a surge in popularity, the ten-episode program was bound to strike controversy.

A large portion of viewers felt as if Netflix produced the series in an attempt to make money off of a tragedy, saying that it is just a way to retraumatize the victims’ families, and even worse, a way to romanticize Peter’s role as the killer. Eric Perry, the sister of a victim, went to Twitter with her disappointment and outrage.
“I’m not telling anyone what to watch, I know true crime media is huge rn [right now], but if you’re actually curious about the victims, my family (the Isbell’s) are pissed about this show. It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”

However, while the series is undoubtedly a horrific watch, unimaginably so for the victims’ families and friends, it is the truth of our American history. In fact, the court trial was almost entirely regurgitated as the victims statements were essentially copied in order to ensure that the perspective and emotion of the affected was captured accurately. The way that the creators of the show, Ian Brennan and Ryan Murphy, did this made it impossible to empathize and romanticize Dahmer. Truthfully, if fans are still able to idolize and glamorize Dahmer, then that is a problem of the viewers and certainly not a show trying to capture the truth of a disturbing case.

While there is nothing that could ever be said that would be able to excuse or justify the actions of the killer, critics will say that the series wrongfully humanizes a murderer, however, I would argue that this is the right thing to do. The show highlights how mental illnesses such as borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and a psychosis, all of which Dahmer suffered from, with a mix of a childhood full of neglect and verbal abuse can easily hijack the life of an individual and destroy the lives of others around them.

Sadly, this is the world that we live in today and it is painful as a viewer to realize the corruption of the world and just how dark the mind of a person can be. Society heard of this monster, but most did not know the extent of the extremity of his crimes and the new series Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story displays the stories of the victims as well as the complex mind of this man.