Jeffery Dahmer docu-series quickly becomes new hit show


Javier Centellas, staff writer

Recently, a new Netflix original series titled Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, often stylized simply as Dahmer, was released on the streaming service Netflix. All ten episodes were released in September 2022, and as of mid-October, it was still ranked as the number two American TV show on Netflix. The only show ahead is yet another horror/true crime piece, The Watcher, which was released in mid-October.

The show was created by Ian Brennan and Ryan Murphy. The show’s cast includes Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Jenkins as Lionel Dahmer, Penelope Ann Miller as Joyce Dahmer, and Niecy Nash as Glenda Cleavland, among many other roles. 

Comprising ten episodes, each approximately one hour long, the show chronicles the life of American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Between 1978 and 1994, Dahmer killed 17 young men, mainly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and would often dismember and cannibalize their bodies. The show chronicles the whole story behind his childhood, arrest, trial, incarceration, murders, and eventual death in prison.

The show is told through non-linear storytelling, with Dahmer being arrested in the first episode. Before showing the immediate aftermath of his death, the final episode follows Dahmer in prison until he is killed. Other episodes will cut between various important dates and locations, such as Dahmer’s upbringing.

 The show also displays the mishandling of the case by law enforcement, with Glenda Cleveland shown as calling the police multiple times to report Dahmer, only to be ignored. It is worth noting, however, that Cleveland is portrayed as being Dahmer’s next-door neighbor when in reality she lived in an adjacent building. Regardless, she called the police multiple times in both reality and the show.

While there may be some historical inaccuracies, the show stays true to the events of Dahmer’s life. Dahmer’s trial scene is a great example of attention to detail, with the real-life televised trial and the trial in the show being identical in terms of dialog, with only small visual changes and camera quality being the difference between the two. 

One somewhat overlooked aspect of the show is the soundtrack, written and recorded by Warren Ellis and Nick Cave. It is just enough to add suspense to the show and aid in storytelling, without distracting from the plot itself. 

However, despite the high ratings, the show has been somewhat controversial. One reason for this is that the show, like many true crimes, has been accused of romanticizing Dahmer and using him and his victims for entertainment and profit.

 It has also been called out due to the fact there are already movies and shows about Dahmer, such as the 2017 film My Friend Dahmer and the 2022 mini-series Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes, that already exist, which has led some to question the necessity of the show. Some family members of victims have even stated that the show has reopened old wounds.

Another item of controversy was that the production team often failed to notify the families of victims, who mostly found out about the show’s existence alongside the rest of the general public.

Despite this, the show has been quite popular and well-received by most, with an 8.1 IMDB rating, and on rotten tomatoes a rating of 84% by viewers. However, critics were a bit harsher, with a 47% approval rating.

Even with the dark and bloody nature of the show, true crime fans will likely enjoy this binge-worthy series but should keep in mind the victims and their families, not just Dahmer himself. All things considered, the show is a well-paced, well-researched, and well-written retelling of the tragic events that befell Milwaukee 30 years ago.