The true crime series, produced by Ryan Murphy, was originally tagged in the LGBTQ category on the streamer. The series broke records on Netflix for being the most-watched Week 1 premiere for a new series, beating out even the viral “Squid Game.”
Evan Peters stars as real-life serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered 17 men between the years 1978 and 1991, before being arrested and later murdered in prison in 1994.
As IndieWire’s Ryan Lattanzio wrote, the 10-episode series “isn’t as grisly as you’d expect, though it’s certainly brutal at times” and largely remained close to the facts. Yet Netflix’s categorization of LGBTQ themes drew social media backlash, and inquiries as to whether the tag was because of Dahmer’s own sexuality or that his victims were queer.
Netflix did not respond to IndieWire’s request for comment, though Variety was able to confirm the tag was removed on Friday, September 23, two days after the premiere last Wednesday. The tag is used for LGBTQ favorites like “Sex Education.” Viewers on social media have accused the show of romanticizing Dahmer and of poorly representing LGBTQ audiences.
The families of Dahmer’s victims have also revealed that the “Monster” production did not reach out to those who actually endured Dahmer’s killing spree. While the murders and trial notes are matters of the public record, producers of “Monster” are not required to notify the families of the portrayed victims.
“I’m not telling anyone what to watch, I know true crime media is huge rn, but if you’re actually curious about the victims, my family (the Isbell’s) are pissed about this show,” Eric Perry, cousin of Jeffrey Dahmer victim Errol Lindsey, tweeted. “Recreating my cousin having an emotional breakdown in court in the face of the man who tortured and murdered her brother is WILD.”
Perry continued, “So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the victims’ or ‘honoring the dignity of the families,’ no one contacts them,” Perry continued. “My cousins wake up every few months at this point with a bunch of calls and messages and they know there’s another Dahmer show. It’s cruel. It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”
Lead star Peters said in a promotional video that “Monster” had “one rule” from creator Murphy: that the series would “never be told from Dahmer’s point of view.”
“It’s called ‘The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,’ but it’s not just him and his backstory: It’s the repercussions, it’s how society and our system failed to stop him multiple times because of racism, homophobia,” Peters said. “It’s just a tragic story.”
Ryan Lattanzio contributed reporting.