Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Maybe you have noticed, maybe you didn’t, but of all the horror-based content I’ve covered I did not review Netflix’s latest foray into true crime, the clumsily titled Dahmer –Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story and there are a few reasons for this.
Firstly, while I commend the acting by everyone involved and I think Evan Peters (a long time collaborator with the show’s creator Ryan Murphy the mind responsible for the American Horror Story series and its spin-offs) delivers a strong showing as the emotionless serial killer, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of tact and respect for the victims and their families. With the exception of episode six titled “Silence” which kind of/sort of takes a closer look into the life of victim Tony Hughes, the series, in typical Ryan Murphy fashion, chooses to place its focus on Jeffrey Dahmer’s life instead with flashbacks to his childhood awkwardly mingling with his present self.
Now I’m a huge fan of true crime, going as far as to read books on real life serial killers that go as far back as the early 19th century. So I’m not going to pretend I don’t understand the somewhat strange yet grotesque allure some of us have with these real life “monsters”. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand how important it is to not glamorise or inadvertently glorify these terrible people and instead I choose to now follow only true crime content creators who take the time and effort to acknowledge the victims. Who they were, what they meant to the people who loved them and the lasting impact their deaths had on them.
So while I did see fleeting moments in this series where they touched on the very real people who were unlucky enough to have their lives cut short by this man I think Ryan Murphy’s weak attempt at showing who they were while spending most of the show’s runtime focusing on the killer who saw them as nothing more than a means to his own selfish needs of sexual gratification and “companionship” to be straight up insulting.
Secondly, I find it really difficult to review something such as this when I and most people would find this as far from entertaining as you could possibly get. Documentaries that have covered Dahmer and men like him (Netflix also released a documentary shortly after the series based on Dahmer’s true-life recordings with his legal team, as well as those of John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy) already exist. These documentaries at least take the time to also address the alleged failings of the police and the societal reasons that may have allowed for these types of individuals to get away with such atrocities for as long as they did, and I personally prefer them as they lean towards being informative instead of sensational.
Last of all I feel like there have been numerous reviews already of this series that have said what I wanted to say about it in a more definitive way than I could. I recommend reading the article entitled “The Problem with Dahmer” by Jen Chaney over at Vulture, which I felt expertly put into words everything I felt while watching the show. The success of this series probably means we’re going to continue to see more like this in the future; one can only hope those directors, producers and writers at the very least take a moment to understand that men such as Dahmer don’t deserve to be put in the spotlight. But if you’re going to do so, keep in mind these moments and the people who were robbed of their family members deserve to be the ones remembered. Not the other way around.
And you can check out more true crime content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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