‘Dahmer’ on Netflix: All the Reaction and the True Story, Explained

from netflix The latest true-crime blockbuster, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, has broken viewing records, but some wish the Milwaukee killer wasn’t getting so much exposure. Dahmer (the show) has been generating a lot of controversy. Let’s break it down.

The reaction

Dahmer is the latest in a long line of true-life inspired stories that focus on either the killer or the criminal. The fascination with serial killers stretches back beyond Silence of the Lambs into creepy fiction and nonfiction, with real-life killers portrayed in movies like the 2019 film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron. like the killer Ted Bundy. There’s a whole industry of non-fiction books and podcasts, including the very flippant title My Favorite Murder. Netflix has already gotten in on the act with true crime series, including The Staircase, Making a Murderer and Tiger King, as well as the serial killer dramatization Mindhunter.

But any true crime show invites the question of whether it is exalting the criminal at the expense of the victims. Rita Isbell, sister of Errol Lindsey, one of the men killed by Dahmer, spoke to Insider about the show. She gave an emotional impact statement on the victim at Dahmer’s sentencing in 1992, a scene that is recreated in the series.

“I was never contacted about the show,” Isbell told Insider. “I feel like Netflix should have asked if we cared or how we felt about doing it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did.”

Others have posted on social media calling for the victims to be remembered instead of the man whose name appears twice in the show’s title.

Additionally, Netflix originally placed Dahmer in its LGBTQ category, which typically features upbeat shows like the acclaimed romance. heartstopper. Dahmer was gay, but Netflix has since removed that label following fan outcry. “This is not the representation we are looking for,” one viewer wrote on TikTok.

How real is the series?

Anne E. Schwartz, the reporter who broke Dahmer’s story in the Milwaukee Journal in 1991, told the UK-based Independent that the Netflix series was inaccurate in some respects.

Schwartz, who later worked for the Milwaukee Police Department and the Wisconsin Department of Justice, said “the portrayal of the city’s police officers as racist and homophobic was incorrect,” the newspaper reports.

Additionally, the series features Niecy Nash as Dahmer’s neighbor, Glenda Cleveland. She is shown living right next to the killer and staring at him in the hallway, as well as reporting the smells and sounds of the murders to the police. Schwartz noted that Cleveland, who died in 2011, actually lived in a separate building from Dahmer. But it was Cleveland that tried to dissuade police from returning a 14-year-old victim, Konerak Sinthasomphone, to Dahmer, who then murdered the boy.

The basics

Jeffrey Dahmer was real, of course, but the things he did were so horrible they almost seem impossible. Born in Milwaukee in 1960, he had a troubled childhood, with an early interest in dead animals and dissection. Then, over 13 years beginning in 1978, he murdered and dismembered 17 men and boys, committing necrophilia and cannibalism, and sparing body parts and bones. He was finally caught in 1991 and sentenced to 17 life sentences. Another inmate beat Dahmer to death in prison in 1994.

The 10-episode series jumps between Dahmer’s unhappy childhood, his murders, and his eventual arrest. Adding to the horror of Dahmer’s crimes, the series shows how Milwaukee police failed to listen to neighbors who warned them that something was going on in the killer’s apartment. In fact, two officers returned one of Dahmer’s victims to him when the seriously injured and drugged boy tried to escape from the house of horrors.

The show is haunting, often gory, and a grim watch. After about a week on Netflix, it has mixed to average reviews from Metacritic critics and generally favorable reviews from users.

Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter wrote in his review, “Going through a different editing process, there’s a clever interrogation of Jeffrey Dahmer’s crimes, the real people affected, and the aftermath here. It’s frequently lost or obscured.”

Fienberg and other critics call episode six, titled Silenced, an exceptional episode within the series. It focuses on one of the men Dahmer killed, Tony Hughes. “Tony was deaf, and by placing a black, deaf, gay character at the center of the narrative, the series gives voice to someone whose voice has too often been left out of gawking portraits of serial killers,” writes Fienberg. .

But Caroline Framke of Variety writes that, unfortunately, “Silenced is the exception rather than the rule”, and not every episode is as well done.

Who plays the serial killer?

Dahmer is played by Evan Peters, who has played multiple roles in several seasons of American Horror Story and who plays Quicksilver in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Dahmer reunites Peters with director Ryan Murphy, who co-created American Horror Story and Dahmer.

The show features two iconic actors.

Michael Learned, famous for her role as country mother Olivia Walton in The Waltons, plays Dahmer’s grandmother, Catherine. Learned is an icon from the 1970s, but there’s also an icon from the 1980s who stars in this show. Molly Ringwald, of John Hughes movie fame, plays Dahmer’s stepmother, Shari. You will hardly recognize her.

The series also stars Richard Jenkins as Dahmer’s father, Lionel. Niecy Nash stars as Glenda Cleveland, Dahmer’s apartment neighbor who goes to great lengths to get the Milwaukee police to pay attention to the horrible smells and sounds coming from behind her door.

Actors Richard Jenkins, Molly Ringwald and Penelope Ann Miller chat in a hallway in a scene from Dahmer - Monster

Richard Jenkins plays Jeffrey Dahmer’s father, Molly Ringwald (center) plays his stepmother Shari, and Penelope Ann Miller plays his mother, Joyce.


how to look

All 10 episodes are now available to stream on Netflix.

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