“Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”: What Has Come to Light

Source: Netflix

Source: Netflix

Elizabeth Ippolito

Creators: Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan

Starring: Evan Peters, Richard Jenkins, Molly Ringwald, Niecy Nash, and Michael Learned

Release Date: Sep. 21, 2022

Rating: 4/5

Many people have heard of Jeffrey Dahmer, whether it be through documentaries or pop culture references, Dahmer continues to be a notorious name. With earlier projects such as “My Friend Dahmer,” true crime fans were thrilled to see Evan Peters take on the challenging role of Dahmer in Netflix’s “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”.

The true crime series follows Jeffrey Dahmer’s life from childhood to death. What makes the series interesting is that it is the first full-life portrayal of Dahmer’s life including every kill and felony. Nothing is held back from the concern of the audience.

“Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” has incredible cinematography by Jason McCormick who is also known for his work on “Booksmart.” The series contains a sort of yellow tint as if it was aged, which helps deliver the creepy vision. When Dahmer is committing heinous acts the coloring is a thick yellow, but when he acts “normal,” the scenes have a dull blue coloring, which is a great touch to help audiences know Dahmer’s true intentions. The star of the series, Peters himself, took this role to a new level. Peters is known for his work on “American Horror Story,” but in this series, he took on a different kind of monster that he hasn’t played before.

Talking about his experience of getting into character, Peters said, “Honestly, I was very scared about all the things he did and diving into that. Trying to commit to that was absolutely going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life.” 

Since the series is true crime and not a documentary, some things have been added to the writing for dramatic effect. For one, Dahmer’s neighbor, Glenda Cleveland, lived in a different building and contacted authorities after her niece had an uncomfortable run-in with Dahmer. Cleveland became a major part of the show in the latter half of the series and, surprisingly, she wasn’t as involved in reality as she was portrayed. The second big inaccuracy has to do with Dahmer’s father, Lionel. Lionel never taught Dahmer how to dissect animals as a child and he never noticed inconsistencies in Dahmer’s behavior, as portrayed in the show. Both of these inaccuracies come as a shock to audiences since they were focal points of the season. However all the details of his killings were portrayed accurately. 

One of the major flaws of the entertainment industry is casting visually appealing actors to play these horrific roles in an attempt to provide physical attraction to the characters. Peters went above and beyond in his role though the creators sexualized him throughout the series. Another flaw of the series was its portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community. Oftentimes films and TV shows characterize serial killers as members of the LGBTQ+ community. While Jeffrey Dahmer was a part of the LGBTQ+ community and many of his victims were men, he did not commit heinous acts because he was gay. The series gives the LGBTQ+ Community an inaccurate portrayal and in turn deducts points from their rating. The series, being a Netflix Original, has been categorized as an LGBTQ+ film rather than a documentary or crime series.

“I feel like it fetishizes this whole horrible moment in Milwaukee history. It shouldn’t be looked at that way, it just feels completely wrong,” drag performer B.J. Daniels told Deadline. “I know a lot of my friends and a lot of people who lived through this period will not be watching it. They will not be putting money into somebody’s pocket that is literally disturbing the graves of victims.”

Although “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” is incredibly slow and gruesome, it is a very well-done true crime by Netflix and keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. The show gives an in-depth inside look at Dahmer’s life and behavior but in turn, took the LGBTQ+ aspect of his life and connected it to his gruesome behaviors thus giving the LGBTQ+ community a misleading label.