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A Review of Netflix’s Latest Docuseries “Dahmer– Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story streamed for 196.2 million hours in its first week of release on Netflix, according to Variety. The television docuseries which spans 10 episodes follows the story of the infamous serial killer Jeffery Dahmer.

Jeffery Dahmer was convicted of murdering and dismembering 17 boys and men in Milwaukee, Wisconsin between 1978 and 1991. The latest docuseries starring Evan Peters is currently the number-one tv show in more than 60 countries.

The show has provoked varying responses: some viewers found it disturbing. “I started it but couldn’t finish because it made me severely uncomfortable,” says Maddy Aismi, a student at the University of Ottawa.

Erika Mendelson, a Carleton University student, describes a similar experience when watching the show. “I’m watching it and I’m afraid of the main character. He makes me so uncomfortable and I’m just looking at him through a screen.”

Despite the disturbing subject matter, some viewers had other concerns surrounding the handling of certain cases, especially the details of the individual murders.

“It was a well-done show and showcased a very high-profile case that many people are interested in learning. It does romanticize it a bit which can be hard to watch for specifically the victims’ families as it showcases some very specific and gruesome details,” says Emily DaSilva a student at the University of Waterloo.

The series does a great job of emphasizing some of the external societal factors that contributed to the longevity of Dahmer’s reign of terror. One of the clear themes in the series was the failure of police intervention at various points in the years of his attacks.

The series highlighted an instance where one of Dahmer’s victims needed serious medical attention, but when they were notified of the victim’s “homosexual preferences” they were hesitant to help the victim at all. Police officers are shown looking very uncomfortable when there is any mention of homosexual activity or as Dahmer says in the show, “gay stuff.”

Not only did the show emphasize the racial and homophobic biases of police officers at the time, but it also delved into Dahmer’s childhood and some of the issues that stemmed from his home life. As Fahad Ali, one viewer explains, “It attempted showing how it wasn’t just people but multiple systems that failed Dahmer at an early age and failed the victims by not responding appropriately.”

Serial Killers and murderers should not be romanticized in any regard in modern society or media. However, it is important to understand some of the underlying factors which contributed to the psychological health of these infamous killers. Ali adds, “It helped humanize an infamous person people probably just see as a serial killer — arguably something media should start to approach to help shift our perspective about criminals being human.”

Not all serial killers are the same, and all cases are subject to different factors and unique circumstances. Not all of them were born monsters but were shaped into them by various life experiences. Dahmer does a great job of not romanticizing a monster but also reaching into his background to help explain some of the psychological aspects which shaped the serial killer he grew up to be.

Camryn Lynde, a criminology student at Carleton University summarizes her experience watching the show: “I think it was better than a lot of other ones that have been made because it showed the reality behind the crimes without trying to over-romanticize or change the story, too.”

Dahmer provides a broader insight into not only the circumstances of the various murders committed but also the societal attitudes of the time towards not only the LGBTQ+ community but also the BIPOC community in the 80s and 90s America Midwest.

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Celia Bildfell

Carleton '23

I am a fourth-year student currently pursuing a double major in Journalism and Law. I hope to go to law school and pursue a career in criminal law. I grew up as a middle child in a family of 5 kids. I write with her campus to promote and advocate for women with and without a voice. I hope by discussing various topics through my posts I can generate discussion and get other great girls involved in the awesome work Her Campus does!