Does Monster go too far?

Samantha Li, Copy Editor

Released on September 21, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, is a Netflix series based on the true story of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Dahmer is played by the iconic star, Evan Peters, famous for his work in the popular series American Horror Story. According to Time, Monster was at the top of the English TV List for two consecutive weeks with nearly 300 million hours viewed.

However, the show has garnered a lot of controversy and backlash. The families of Dahmer’s victims were never asked by the filmmakers for consent to produce the documentary. Therefore, the series, which recreated their real-life experiences with Dahmer, triggered traumatizing memories for many.

Matteo Schneider, ‘23, who watched the show, said, “The story itself is interesting…[but] it is pretty disturbing to watch. There’s a lot of violence and just messed up scenes.”

Additionally, the casting choice of Peters brings up fears that the series may have romanticized the criminal by portraying him as conventionally attractive. Several fans took to social media after the show’s release to announce their attraction to Dahmer’s character.

Schneider suggested that Dahmer’s appeal comes from the “mystery of the character” and his “bad boy” vibe. More concerningly, Dahmer’s likeability stems from how the series retells his backstory. The portrayal of Dahmer as the protagonist evokes pity for him rather than for the victims that he killed.

Crime series like Monster, which are based on true stories, “put the spotlight on a dangerous character,” warned Schneider. By casting attractive stars for the character and modeling the inhumane and criminal behavior in sordid detail, Dahmer’s actions become glamorized. 

Schneider clarified, “It all depends on how you approach [this subject matter] in the first place…you really have to be careful.” 

“If no one was watching, that would teach Netflix a lesson in terms of what it should and should not be adapting,” stated Forbes. “But…despite the pushback, millions and millions of subscribers have made it one of their most popular shows of the year. If anything, it’s going to encourage even more projects like this in the future.”