The Faults of True Crime: A Focus on the Controversy Regarding Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

Mamie Rushkoff, Managing Editor

Jeffrey Dahmer, an American serial killer and convicted sex offender, recently had a third television series re-telling his life. Twenty years ago, Jeremy Renner played him. Five years ago, Ross Lynch did. Now, on September 23, 2022, Evan Peters starred in the new Netflix series Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, both known for their work on Glee, American Horror Story, and Scream Queens. The show follows Dahmer’s life and has encountered much backlash since its release. 

This series received the most negative reviews out of all of the shows created about Dahmer. Monster has been said to have romanticized the seventeen murders of innocent men for the sake of entertainment. All over TikTok, people have been making “thirst traps” and have been editing clips together to morph the series into looking more like a romance or comedy. The comment sections were filled with jokes about the scenes and Peters’ attractiveness rather than concern. Some people have even been sympathetic to Dahmer in comment sections rather than for the victims themselves, claiming that he was “misunderstood” and we should feel bad for him. Netflix even had a tweet mentioning the “disturbing scene” where one of the victims escapes and is brought back by the police to Dahmer. The tweet is immature of Netflix, as their comment comes off as if the plot is an interesting story, instead of a real-life agonizing event. Not even Netflix itself seems to have any remorse for people being affected by this extremely triggering show.

This sensitive topic has re-traumatized others and created much distress as well. Although the series may be depicted well from the views of cinematic reviewers, the message behind the story can appear alarming, especially to people being directly affected. The victims’ families spoke out about the series, including Rita Isbell, the sister of victim Eroll Lindsey. “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,” Isbell exclaimed in her personal essay given to Insider. Eric Perry, the cousin of Eroll Lindsey, also spoke out, saying that the series annoyed him and his family. While Netflix is simply “making money off of this tragedy,” many people’s trauma has resurfaced and a new generation is being exposed to the faults of the true crime industry.

 The most reliable and respectful way to learn about serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer is to research them and not watch dramatizations. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story strives for entertainment rather than accuracy, whereas websites or books may strive for knowledge.