Here’s why viewers are calling Ryan Murphy’s Jeffrey Dahmer series exploitative and traumatizing

Photo Credit: Netflix
Last week marked the debut of DAHMER- Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story on Netflix, a confoundingly multi-titled miniseries from prolific producer Ryan Murphy about the notorious gay serial killer.
While the series’ announcement was met with cries of “Why?” and “Again?,” DAHMER sold itself on doing something different. Rather than trying to find some empathy for the man—which other projects have done before —or, worse, glorify his crimes, the series purported to center on his “underserved victims and their communities,” calling into question the systems that “allowed one of America’s most notorious serial killers to continue his murderous spree in plain sight for over a decade.”
But, by most accounts, DAHMER has failed to make a case for its own existence. Now that audiences have had a chance to check it out, many are calling the series’ dramatizations of Dahmer’s unconscionable crimes needlessly exploitative:

How many more times do we need to talk about Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy?
They really aren't as special as we've made them out to be over all these decades. There's nothing more to say about them
— Reign ???? (@ReignBotYT) September 26, 2022

dahmer is a horrible fucking show and shouldn’t have been made. it’s peoples deaths being made as a spectacle in such gruesome detail, the parts documenting dahmers childhood are infuriating and humanizing for him. when will we stop letting companies exploit murder victims?
— poker? (@p0k33rfac33) September 25, 2022

The fact of the matter is that these were real people, many of whom have friends and family still living with this trauma today. In a piece for Insider , Rita Isbell—the sister of victim Errol Lindsey—shared that she was not contacted by the show despite her name and likeness appearing on screen.
“When I saw some of the show, it bothered me,” Isbell said, “especially when I saw myself—when I saw my name come across the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought it was me. Her hair was like mine, she had on the same clothes. That’s why it felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then.”
Her cousin also chimed in, taking to Twitter to underline the traumatic impact a true-crime series like DAHMER has on the victim’s family:

I’m not telling anyone what to watch, I know true crime media is huge rn, but if you’re actually curious about the victims, my family (the Isbell’s) are pissed about this show. It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?
— eric. (@ericthulhu) September 22, 2022

There’s also been a conversation around the casting of Evan Peters as Dahmer. A regular in Murphy’s stable of television productions, Peters is no doubt a capable actor. But he’s just the latest in a long line of attractive stars who have been tapped to play a serial killer, adding fuel to the assertion that these true crime series are guilty of glamorizing murder, among other things.
Related: That’s a ‘You’ problem: 5 unsettling recent examples of hot actors playing serial killers
As DAHMER memes and thirsty tweets about Peters-as-Dahmer begin to proliferate, many have expressed their discomfort for the way the series is being talked about online:

if you’re thirsting over jeffery dahmer please block me that’s weird as hell there is nothing hot about that man.
— ? (@deltautism) September 25, 2022

hey girlies let’s take a second to remember that jeffery dahmer was a murderer AND a cannibal ! you look extremely odd saying he’s attractive ?
— laur ? (@y2skinny) September 25, 2022

And, among the flood of tweets about the series, a handful have pointed out that Peters’ Dahmer looks and sounds an awful lot like New York-based comedian and writer Joe Pera, whose critically adored Joe Pera Talks With You ran for three seasons on Adult Swim.
Gawker  spoke with Pera about the unsavory comparisons, and the comic offered up a pretty succinct takedown of  DAHMER and other true-crime series like it:
“I don’t know what’s to be learned from Jeffrey Dahmer in 2022. I think the money should be given to people who want to build the world with a little imagination, and not just make the same Jeffrey Dahmer story over and over again.”
Amen. So maybe we put this serial killer stories to rest for a little while, okay?
Related: 20 years ago, an unknown Jeremy Renner dared to play gay serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer

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