Today Netflix has released a new 10-part limited drama series about one of America’s most notorious serial killers, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the show is trending online.
Some readers might be too young to remember Dahmer, who murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991 (the first when he was just 18 years old), while others will recall his 1992 sentencing and his death in prison two years later (he was murdered by a fellow inmate).
It seems a particularly gruesome subject matter to tackle: the Milwaukee Monster, as Dahmer came to be known, engaged in necrophilia and cannibalism and would often preserve body parts of the people he killed.
But producer Ryan Murphy, who created, directed and wrote Nip/Tuck, Glee, Pose and American Horror Story has taken on the challenge, choosing to focus on the stories of the victims and their families, rather than the murders themselves. There is also another story to be told: authorities were accused of negligence and two police officers were reportedly even fired for a decision made regarding Dahmer.
The synopsis of Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, says it details the “systemic racism and institutional failures of the police that allowed one of America’s most notorious serial killers to continue his murderous spree in plain sight for over a decade”.
However, some critics weren’t entirely persuaded by Murphy’s attempt at a more moralistic angle: “Ryan Murphy’s Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story leans so far into the grisliness that you will feel your gag reflex kick in within minutes. It’s an unflinching chronicle of unspeakable evil and appears to have set itself the challenge of being entirely unwatchable,” said The Telegraph.
“It’s hard to see the value of delving into the agony and ecstasy of Jeffrey Dahmer,” it added.
Earlier, when the trailer dropped, Screenrant said it “includes some harrowing images that suggest a very dark tone for the series, including a scene where the titular serial killer cradles a corpse and another where he’s serving up a human meat sandwich, set to a distorted version of Yazoo’s 1982 hit, Don’t Go.”
The new show stars Evan Peters (American Horror Story, WandaVision) as Dahmer, Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water, The Visitor) as his father Lionel, Molly Ringwald (The Pick-up Artist, The Breakfast Club) as stepmother Shari and Michael Learned (Scrubs, The Waltons) as his grandmother Catherine.
Speaking about taking on the role, in an interview shared on Ryan Murphy Productions’ Twitter account, Peters said: “Honestly, I was very scared about all of the things that he did, and diving into that and trying to commit to that was absolutely going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life because I wanted it to be very authentic.”
This isn’t all the Dahmer coming to Netflix either. On October 7, Conversations With A Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes will be dropping on the streaming site. The docuseries, which has previously covered Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy, builds a picture of each serial killer using never-before-heard audio interviews.
Dahmer has already been recreated on screen twice: once in the 2002 horror thriller film Dahmer, which starred Jeremy Renner as Dahmer, and once in the 2017 film My Friend Dahmer, which starred Ross Lynch as the serial killer.
The full series was released on Netflix today.