Jeffrey Dahmer Series Sparks Controversy 


Julia Cleland

Jeffrey Dahmer Series Sparks Controversy 

On September 21, 2022, Netflix released Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, and it quickly shot to the top of the streamer’s charts. With more than 300 million hours viewed, it is Netflix’s second most popular show ever. Although the series’ stated purpose was to “expose these unconscionable crimes, centered 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,” it has received overwhelming criticism from the public. Personally, I find it disturbing that such content can be binged from the comfort of our own homes.

Firstly, the series forces relatives of Dahmer’s victims to relive their trauma. The family of Errol Lindsey, who was murdered by Dahmer at the age of 19, has spoken out in particular. His sister, Rita Isbell, revealed that Netflix never contacted her family about producing the show or offered to benefit them in any way. She says the show is “about Netflix trying to get paid” and “it’s sad that they’re making money off of this tragedy; that’s just greed.” 

Lindsey’s cousin, Eric Perry, tweeted, “It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?” 

Six months after Lindsey’s death, his daughter, Tatiana Banks, was born. Now 31 years old, she recently admitted she has nightmares of Jeffrey Dahmer and hasn’t slept since the series was released. She sums it up perfectly, “That chapter of my life was closed, and they reopened it.”

Besides opening the old wounds of families who had already healed from this tragedy, the series gives TikTokers the opportunity to capitalize on Dahmer content. All over social media, content creators are posting videos analyzing the serial killer’s life, crimes, and legacy. The hashtag “#dahmer” alone has more than one billion views. New trends have gone viral that include lip-syncing the words “she eat your heart out like Jeffrey Dahmer” or dancing to lyrics “I’ll pull a Jeffrey Dahmer” in what’s called the Cannibal Challenge. Fan edits using clips from the show are inspiring thirst posts and comments on how “hot” Evan Peters is in his portrayal of the Milwaukee Monster. 

Some users are even expressing that the series could have been more gruesome, flexing how they are so unfazed by its morbid content. One TikToker wrote in a post, “Raise your hand if you were part of the handful of people who were completely unbothered by the Dahmer series and is watching it again,” to which many agreed with. Even if Netflix’s take on the Dahmer story had been supported by the victims’ loved ones and completely ethical, nothing would have kept influencers from using it to draw attention to their own platform. 

Overall, the series is just the latest adaptation prolonging Dahmer’s sickening legacy. True crime is a hot genre right now, so it’s no surprise that Netflix would jump on the chance to lead the trend. In the end, it only creates a need for juicier and more shocking stories for the public to obsess over. Regardless of what Netflix intended on accomplishing with their show, it’s likely to be remembered for its rejection by the families of Dahmer’s victims and the disturbing way the Internet responded.