December 7, 2023


Netflix’s drama about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer has attracted huge viewing figures but also criticism from people who say it’s insensitive.

Rapper Boosie BadAzz tweeted: “As black people we should boycott the [show]. What he did to our black kids is sick.”

Dahmer killed 17 boys and young men, many of whom were black and gay, between 1978 and 1991.

The sister of one of his victims has described Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story as “harsh and careless”.

Rita Isbell, whose brother Errol Lindsey was 19 when he was killed, gave an emotional victim impact statement in court in 1992, but said she was not informed it would be recreated in Ryan Murphy’s 10-part series.

She told Insider: “When I saw some of the show, it bothered me, especially when I saw myself – when I saw my name come across the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said.”

‘That’s just greed’

She said Netflix should have given some of the money from the show to the victims’ children and grandchildren.

“If the show benefited them in some way, it wouldn’t feel so harsh and careless. It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed.”

Last week, Lindsey’s cousin Eric Perry tweeted to say the family were unhappy about the series.

“It’s retraumatising over and over again, and for what?” he said. “How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”

He added that “recreating my cousin having an emotional breakdown in court in the face of the man who tortured and murdered her brother is WILD. WIIIIIILD”.

Anne E Schwartz, the journalist who broke the story of his crimes in 1991, told the Independent the streaming series had “sacrificed accuracy for the sake of drama”.

The former crime journalist said the film-makers had taken “artistic licence” with many key details, saying the series “does not bear a great deal of resemblance to the facts of the case”.

She also said the “depiction of city police officers as racist and homophobic was incorrect”.

Record ratings

Netflix has also been criticised for initially categorising it as an LGBTQ show. That tag was later removed.

The controversy has not stopped the show from notching up the streaming service’s highest first-week viewing figures for a brand new series since its ratings system began in June 2021, according to IndieWire.

The show, which stars Evan Peters as Dahmer, was watched for 196.2 million hours in its first full week, and is currently the number one TV show on Netflix in more than 60 countries.

Netflix has been asked for a response to the criticisms.

Its official synopsis says the series “exposes these unconscionable crimes, centred around the underserved victims and their communities impacted by 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”.

He wrote: “Worst of all, by some degree, is the show’s choice of focus… The one good thing a show like this can do is steal the spotlight from the murderer and show who these people actually were. But Dahmer, for the most part, is unfortunately too infatuated with its star attraction for that.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg called it an “infuriating hodgepodge”, adding that “reducing most of the victims and their families to their pain is closer to exploiting that pain than honouring any memories”.

But Forbes’ Paul Tassi said: “I don’t know if ‘liking’ the series is the right word, as it’s pretty unsettling to watch, but I do think it’s well-acted by everyone involved, and the show does do a lot of work to maintain the focus is on the victims, the ineptitude of the police and the damage that Dahmer left in his wake.”

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