NEWS

Why Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is so controversial

"Do better Netflix."
Loading the player...

When news broke that Ryan Murphy’s latest TV project, starring Evan Peters, would focus on the real-life horrors of Jeffrey Dahmer, not everyone was impressed. 

Watch Below: Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story Trailer

While the famed producer had a number of widely successful horror projects under his belt, not everyone was excited about his leap into real-life crime. 

Despite true crime continuing to gain popularity over the last few years, through podcasts, books and documentaries, turning the horrors of real life into a Netflix drama crosses a line for many. 

As Evan Peters gains applause for his disturbing portrayal of one of Americas worst serial killers in Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, a conversation has begun on how victims and real crimes should be treated in Hollywood

Now, the family of the victims are joining the conversation, responding to the Netflix show that depicts in gruesome detail how their loved ones were murdered. 

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Not everyone is excited about Ryan Murphy’s latest project. (Credit: Netflix)

Rita Isbell, the sister of Errol Lindsey, who was one of the last victims of Dahmer, recently wrote an essay for Insider about how the new Netflix show had affected her and her family. 

In 1992, Rita gave a victim impact statement at Dahmer’s sentencing – a statement which was recreated word-for-word in the new show. 

“It bothered me,” she wrote,  “especially when I saw myself — when I saw my name come across the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said.”

“That’s why it felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then.”

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Despite the ethical concerns, the series was a massive hit on Netflix. (Credit: Netflix)

Critically, Rita explained that Netflix never contacted her about the show. 

“I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it,” she wrote in the article. 

“They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it. I could even understand it if they gave some of the money to the victims’ children. … The victims have children and grandchildren. 

“If the show benefited them in some way, it wouldn’t feel so harsh and careless. It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed.”

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
The Netflix series has upset a lot of people. (Credit: Netflix)

And it wasn’t just Rita who slammed the project, with Errol Lindsey’s cousin Eric Perry also taking to social media to explain why he was not okay with the new series. 

“It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need? Like, recreating my cousin having an emotional breakdown in court in the face of the man who tortured and murdered her brother is WILD. WIIIIIILD,” he tweeted. 

He also reiterated that Netflix never notified their family, “It’s all public record, so they don’t have to notify (or pay!) anyone.” 

“My family found out when everyone else did.” 

Jeffrey Dahmer
Between 1978 and 1991 Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys. (Credit: Getty)

Among the many videos on TikTok that are praising the new series, a rapidly rising number of users are now siding with the victim’s families, finding discomfort in the portrayal of real-life trauma.  

Under one clip, which summed up the response of both Rita and Eric, hundreds of comments slammed Netflix’s decision. 

“Do Better Netflix,” commented one person, whilst another asked, “why are we still making movies about this man?”

While others did point out that they believe the show focused on the victims and their stories, instead of the killer, the general consensus was that Netflix should have financially compensated the families at the very least. 

Watch Below: Nitram – Official Trailer

Loading the player...

As audiences continue to debate whether the show should have been made or not, it brings up a bigger question about media interpretations of real-life horrors. 

It’s an issue that is also very close to home for Aussie viewers. In 2021, Nitram, a film focused on the Port Arthur massacre was slammed as “too much, too soon, and too close to home.” 

This October, Netflix is streaming The Stranger, a fictionalised account inspired by the search for Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe, who was abducted on December 7, 2003, and murdered. 

Daniel’s parents slammed those who made the film as “parasites”, and the film itself as “corrupt and cruel.”

Related stories