Netflix’s 2022 Series Review: ‘Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’

Aya Anzouk, Writer

On September 21, Netflix released a new show titled “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”. Soon after the show premiered, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” became one of the most viewed shows on Netflix in the United States and Netflix’s ninth most popular series ever. The show tackles the story of the infamous American serial killer and cannibal Jeffery Dahmer played by actor Evan Peters. The show also places a significant emphasis on his traumatic childhood and the neurological and socioeconomic factors that led him to commit such heinous and inhumane crimes.

  Despite its popularity, the show received so much criticism from the public as well as some of the victims’ families. Some people took to social media to express their anger; their main concerns were that the show might be unintentionally humanizing a criminal who has taken the lives of so many innocent people. Some claimed that the show was too graphic and painful to watch and expressed their solidarity with the families of the victims who felt insulted by the reenactment of Dahmer’s gruesome crimes against their loved ones for the entertainment of a large audience. To them, this show is nothing more than an attempt to capitalize on the suffering of the victims and reap the public’s sympathy for a ruthless criminal.

  When watching the series from the perspective of the average media consumer, it is difficult to see eye-to-eye with the producer or to critically think about what the message behind this show is. The growing interest surrounding Jeffery Dahmer’s childhood isn’t necessarily an attempt to humanize him or appeal to the emotions of millions of media consumers worldwide.

  None of the criminologists and forensic psychologists who had closely studied Dhamer’s case were interested in the public’s perception of Jeffery Dahmer nor in the serial killer’s personal life. To them, he was nothing more than a case worth studying. His overwhelmingly traumatic childhood and the way in which his brain is wired were the only things that these professionals cared about. Studying his past can help us understand the correlation between child maltreatment and criminal maldevelopment.

  And while it is indeed true that the growing fascination with true crime in modern pop culture is worrisome in many ways, this obsession is only natural. Criminal behavior is widely feared especially in our time, and people often feel compelled to consume true crime because knowing and understanding criminal minds offers them a false sense of safety from criminal behavior. No matter how much knowledge one acquires about the ways in which criminal minds operate, one can never be immune to the vicious manipulation tactics and various methods of deception used by serial killers to lure in their clueless victims.

  The show also raised some necessary and serious questions about race in this country, as well as the shortcomings of the criminal justice system. To many people, Jeffery Dahmer is a case of ‘weaponized whiteness’. His racial identity has made it easier for people to look past the unspeakable acts of violence he has committed against his victims, most of whom belong to severely marginalized communities.

  But the most astonishing part of all of this was that so many TikTok users have been sharing how they felt about the new series, claiming they were unfazed by the gruesome murders of so many queer black men and boys. Some people went as far as admiring his looks and saying that they understand why he did what he did. In addition, the series was not factually accurate which further proves the point of the grieving families.

  Some people wished the show had focused more on the victims and the suffering of their loved ones than on the serial killer, others expressed their interest in learning more about the brain anatomy of the likes of Jeffery Dahmer. But either way, it’s important for consumers of media to think critically of all the content to which we have access and to always do research beforehand and listen to a wide range of opinions and perspectives.