Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is an American limited biographical true crime drama series co-created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, premiered on Netflix on September 21, 2022.The series follows the murders of infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, portrayed by Evan Peters, and is told from his victims’ point of view. (Wikipedia)
Our initial reaction to Dahmer was — do we really need to go through another glorification of a serial killer’s heinous crimes again? Think of all the true crime documentaries and dramas that Netflix alone produces and it seems to never reach any saturation point. Isn’t it time we stop giving attention to these murderers?
Dahmer’s co-creator Ryan Murphy has done an excellent job with the three seasons of American Crime Story, opting to focus less on the perpetrator and giving voice to the victims instead. This is a major problem with many of these true crime dramas in that the victims are reduced to notches on the killers’ guns, so to speak. While the series does spend time exploring the background and events that led to gruesome killings, it does so mostly in a neutral fashion, allowing the audience to come to its own conclusions.
However, where Dahmer really works compared to other similar series is making the audience truly engage and empathise with the victims – and not just the ones who were killed but everyone who was traumatised by the killings i.e. families, neighbours and even Dahmer’s own parents. One particular episode spent mostly in silence, which focused on Tony Hughes – who was deaf – provided tremendous insight into the person he was and refusing to make him yet another victim cypher.
Dahmer also shines a light on the social systems that allowed someone like this to get away with his crimes for decades. The police particularly who never bothered to listen to the troubled voices of those who tried to report the crimes being committed, mainly because they were black or brown. And once the killer is caught, then of course, we get the media frenzy and worse still, the despicable fan worship. The series is unflinching in depicting how sick and twisted America is, in this respect.
So yes, Dahmer is worth binge-watching. If nothing else, it is yet another cautionary tale of why the USA is so fucked-up and why systemic change is needed. Which is a punch to the gut that the USA needs right now, as it is on the knife’s edge of falling back into white supremacy and religious fundamentalism. Highly recommended.
Now streaming on Netflix.
… still there’s more …