After a series of misses at Netflix, Ryan Murphy’s fortunes at the streamer are up in a big way. The producer’s two most recent series for the streamer, “Monster” and “The Watcher,” have been picked up for future seasons, Netflix announced Monday.
Both shows are true crime series that Murphy created with his frequent collaborator Ian Brennan, premiered this fall, and touted as one-season miniseries. “Monster,” which bore the full title of “Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” during its first season, will return for two additional seasons as an anthology series, focusing on other “monstrous” figures in history. “The Watcher,” which Murphy and Brennan co-created with Eric Newman, has been renewed for a Season 2, and will presumably follow the same cast of characters as the first season.
“Audiences can’t take their eyes off ‘Monster’ and ‘The Watcher,'” Netflix global TV head Bela Bajaria said in a statement. “The creative team of Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan on ‘Monster’ along with Eric Newman on ‘The Watcher’ are masterful storytellers who captivated audiences all over the world. The back-to-back force of these two series is due to Ryan’s distinct original voice which created cultural sensations and we are thrilled to continue telling stories in the ‘Monster’ and ‘Watcher’ universes.”
The first season of “Monster” focused on infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (played by frequent Murphy collaborator Evan Peters), who killed 17 victims between 1978 and 1991, mostly targeting queer men of color. Richard Jenkins, Molly Ringwald, Niecy Nash, and Michael Learned also starred in the initial season, which became a massive success on Netflix, amassing 934 million hours in views since its release on September 21. The season is the second highest-viewed English-language TV season on the streamer after “Stranger Things 4,” and Netflix states that the show is projected to reach 1 billion hours viewed in several weeks.
“The Watcher” is based on “The Haunting of a Dream House,” a 2018 feature story by Reeves Wiedeman for New York Magazine. Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale star in the series as Nora and Dean Brannock, a married couple who purchase their dream home in Westfield, New Jersey and begin to receive mysterious letters from a stalker calling themself “The Watcher.” Although the season finale initially pointed toward one particular character as the stalker, the episode ended ambiguously, with the true culprit’s identity remaining a mystery. Mia Farrow, Terry Kinney, Jennifer Coolidge, Richard Kind, and Margo Martindale also starred in the ensemble of the show.
Both shows were successes with viewers, reaching number 1 on Netflix’s Top 10 Series list. Critical reception was significantly more mixed, with “Monster” receiving mostly negative reviews and “The Watcher” receiving better, albeit more divided, notices. In spite of its high viewership, “Monster” also received significant backlash online from viewers who felt that the show glorified Dahmer and disrespected his victims.
The renewals come at an uncertain time for the relationship between Netflix and Murphy. In 2018, the “Glee” and “American Horror Story” creator signed a massive $300 million deal to create new projects for the streamer over a five-year period. Since then, Murphy’s shows for Netflix — “The Politician,” “Hollywood,” “Ratched,” and “Halston” — received mostly tepid reviews, and haven’t broken out in the way his work at Fox and FX has. “The Watcher” and “Monster” are by far Murphy’s two biggest successes on the streamer, and the renewals ensure the streamer will maintain its relationship with the producer after the initial deal expires in July next year.