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Family of Jeffrey Dahmer victim condemn ‘retraumatising’ Netflix series

"My family... are pissed about this show. It’s retraumatising over and over again," a victim's relative shared.

By Emily Maskell

Evan Peters in DAHMER - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Evan Peters DAHMER - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (Photo: Netflix)

Following the release of Ryan Murphy’s new series, DAHMER – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story dropped on Netflix last week (21 September), many viewers have taken to social media to criticise the show’s depiction.

In the 10-part series, American Horror Story‘s Evan Peters plays Jeffrey Dahmer, the gay American serial killer and sex offender who committed the murder and dismemberment of seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991.

Much of the backlash toward the show has stemmed from its exploitation of the victims’ families in retelling the story of the serial killer.  

Eric Perry, cousin of Dahmer victim Errol Lindsey, pointed out the show’s handling is traumatising: “I know true crime media is huge rn, 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?”

In later tweets, he continued: “[Netflix] don’t notify families when they do this. It’s all public record, so they don’t have to notify (or pay!) anyone. My family found out when everyone else did.”

“So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the victims’ or ‘honouring the dignity of the families’, no one contacts them,” he added. “My cousins wake up every few months at this point with a bunch of calls and messages and they know there’s another Dahmer show. It’s cruel.”

“True crime media is a huge business and thrives off the pain and re-traumatization of victims and their families. I encourage everyone to consider these real human beings when you choose your entertainment and ask yourself how you’d feel if you were in the same situation,” another shared on Twitter, implying that the show should be boycotted.

Other viewers of the show point out that DAHMER – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is a demonstration of how the institution of the police is homophobic; the police failed to protect the public, especially Black and trans women. 

One viewer wrote: “The police’s inaction was a result of the rampant homophobia at the time. The girls was dying like flies (especially black and poc trans women) and the justice system treated them like non-factors because of anti-lgbt sentiments.”

Another outlines that they struggled to watch the show: “the way that poc, immigrants, and LGBTQ are being treated now continues to ostracize them from society and make them vulnerable. Dahmer was disgusting, but the system that failed them (and continues to) made me more depressed.”

Ultimately, as one viewer puts it, the show “really shines a light on how Homophobia was Jeffrey Dahmer’s saving grace. Law enforcement didn’t even wanna go into his apartment out of fear of “catching something”.”

With Peters as Dahmer, the Netflix show also stars Scream Queens‘ Niecy Nash as Dahmer’s suspicious neighbour Glenda Cleveland.

Critics are also divided on the show, on Rotten Tomatoes the series has a 50 percent critics score while the audience score is higher at 86 percent.

Murphy’s other projects for Netflix so far have included The Prom, Hollywood and Ratched.

The Attitude September/October issue is out now.