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Let’s Talk About “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” on Netflix

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

Ryan Murphy has become a household name, creating TV shows such as American Horror Story, Glee, and Pose. Yet, his newest series, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” on Netflix has been harshly criticized by the media. The series chronicles the life of horrific serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, detailing his life from his childhood, to his first murders, all the way up to his eventual imprisonment and death. 

To play devil’s advocate a bit, the show, in my opinion, was rather well-done, in that it focused on the poor police work that lead to the deaths of at least 17 people, most of which being young, gay, black and brown men, including a 14-year-old boy, Konerak Sinthasomphone. Not only this, but Evan Peters’ performance is arguably and objectively one of his best. He so accurately captured the mannerisms and voice of Jeffrey Dahmer; after watching the show and watching interviews of Jeffrey Dahmer in prison, the resemblance is uncanny. 

However, many of the victims’ families have stepped forward stating that the show has forced them to re-experience intense trauma from the time of their loved ones’ passing, and felt that the show glorified Dahmer to a new generation not yet exposed to his gruesome crimes. Even Dahmer’s father, Lionel Dahmer, stated he was never contacted for permission to air the television show, nor did he give permission for multiple recordings his son’s legal team used to be used in the show. 

It’s incredibly alarming that such a powerful creator, Ryan Murphy, would air a show following the life of Dahmer without contacting any of his family, and especially the families of his victims. Because of his status and the fame of his previous projects, people would obviously flock to Murphy’s “Monster” the way they have been. It feels very uncomfortable thinking about the show after watching knowing that so many important people in this case did not approve of this show being made. 

What’s even more concerning is the attention Dahmer has been receiving in younger generations. There are many viral TikTok audios from the television show that people use jokingly in their videos, not understanding the gravity of the crimes committed. Not only this, but on social media and the internet, alarm bells were ringing before Halloween season that many people were selling costumes of Jeffrey Dahmer, including imitations of his infamous glasses being sold on sites such as EBay. There were many posts from Spirit Halloween store employees stating that many customers had been asking about Dahmer costumes, to the point where multiple families of the victims of Dahmer made a public statement asking people not to dress as him for Halloween. 

While there is freedom of expression when it comes to art, cinema, and television, and while “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” is not a bad piece of television, it is upsetting to me that Ryan Murphy would create this piece of media without consulting the families of the victims and getting their permission, even if the show depicts flaws in the case and is not partial to the side of Jeffrey Dahmer. It is still the stories of their loved ones being depicted in graphic detail, and all the upset surrounding that is completely valid. While the show made an effort to depict the story accurately and share the story behind this horrible case, it is unacceptable to tell the story if those who were part of it do not consent to it being told. There is definitely work to be done in Hollywood in regards to rules being established about permission from families as true crime fanaticism only continues to grow in the United States.

Tess Friedenthal

Northeastern '25

Tess Friedenthal is a third year Human Services and Sociology major at Northeastern University. She enjoys writing and is passionate about a wide variety of topics including social justice, pop culture and media, and much more.