Examining a Monster


Netflix has just released its newest ten-part miniseries on the infamous serial killer Jeffery Dahmer: Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, directed by Ryan Murphy. It stars Evan Peters as Dahmer, who gives a chilling performance. The series came out on September 21st and has since sparked some controversy and received mixed reviews from critics and viewers. This is not the first time Hollywood has tried to tell the story of Jeffery Dahmer with movies such as My Friend Dahmer (2017) and The Jeffrey Dahmer Files (2012) ; this series, however, claims to tell the victims’ story rather than glamorizing his crimes.
The series begins as Dahmer enters a gay bar in Bath, Ohio, and lures home his next victim, Tracy Edwards, a black homosexual man. Throughout the first episode, we see Tracy realize his fate and desperately attempt to escape from death. Finally, he is able to escape and bring the police back to Dahmer’s apartment where they find body parts in his refrigerator and several tools for dismembering the bodies, as well as a barrel of acid to dissolve the bodies he hadn’t consumed. The content within the series is highly graphic and definitely not for the faint of heart.
Throughout the show, the audience learns about his character and his upbringing, not to sympathize with him, but to gain understanding as to how someone could take the lives of others in such a gruesome way.
Viewers also see his neighbors and how they dealt with the news after he was caught. Serial killers are often thought to be criminal masterminds, carefully planning every move to avoid drawing attention to themselves; this was not the case with Dahmer. Several times throughout his spree, police received complaints and urges for investigation from his neighbors, who suspected something was off about Dahmer. Glenda Cleveland, played by Niecy Nash, lived next door to him and called the police several times, complaining about the unusual smells coming through her vents, but she was ignored by police.
Two women even called the police after seeing fourteen-year-old Laotian boy Konerak Sinthasomphone escaping from his apartment. Police found the boy naked, bleeding, and barely able to speak due to the amount of drugs and alcohol he had consumed. They returned him back to Dahmer’s apartment, claiming that “it was a domestic squabble between two homosexuals,” and Konerak was killed within the hour. This speaks to how the police viewed queer individulas and people of color, compared to white men during this time. Dahmer chose his demographic because he knew how the police viewed gay men of color and knew they wouldn’t take their dissaperances as seriously.
When he is finally arrested, viewers feel betrayed by the police department. If even one of the neighbors’ complaints had been taken seriously, who knows how many lives could’ve been spared.
Although fans seem to have a positive view of the series, families of the victims have spoken out against the series. Victim Tony Hughes’ mother, Shirley Houghes, has publicly condemned the show for how it has exploited her son’s story. Although Netflix was not required to consult the victim’s families because the events are public record, Hughes still doesn’t see “how they can use our names and put stuff like that out there.”
The ending of the series is supposed to satisfy their viewers; an evil serial killer is finally caught and sentenced to 941 years in prison after a decades-long killing spree. But fans of this show need to remember that Jeffery Dahmer was not just a character on TV. He was a real person that took the lives of seventeen men between 1978 and 1991, and the family members of those victims are still grieving their losses.