In the next weeks, as Netflix ramps up for awards season, the streaming service will include numerous A-list actors and actresses. However, the notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who passed away in 1994, is currently its leading man, its MVP for the month.
Self-reported data released by Netflix on September 27 shows that “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” is currently the service’s most watched title, with over 196 million viewing hours in the preceding week.
If that isn’t enough Dahmer for you, the newest episode of the docuseries franchise that has previously featured Ted Bundy and most recently John Wayne Gacy is set to premiere on October 7: “Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes.”
The audience is hardly an innocent bystander in this rather sordid equation, as there is a persistent fascination with serial killers that has fueled interest in a subset of the most prolific and heinous of them, which criminologist Scott A. Bonn called “celebrity monsters” in a 2017 piece for Psychology Today.
It’s worth asking if our media-obsessed culture hasn’t been swayed to romanticize serial killers like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer thanks to Hollywood productions starring charismatic performers like Evan Peters (Dahmer) and Mark Harmon (Bundy) in recent years. (In an interview from last year, Kirby said that he had to get over “an ick’ factor” in order to play Bundy in “No Man of God.)
Producing “Monster,” Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan were obviously aware of such worries, and they wanted to highlight Dahmer’s 17 victims and the court system that let him go free for so long.
However, the program’s prolonged depiction of some of those interactions and the gory proof of Dahmer’s crimes is disconcerting, especially given that the show has 10 episodes to tell the narrative.
Despite Netflix’s decision not to provide the series for review before its premiere, the show has performed commercially on par with the service’s other top dramas like “Stranger Things” and “Bridgerton.” A lot of the debate that has arisen over how the production has affected the relatives of Dahmer’s victims could have been avoided with that tactic.
Rita Isbell, the sister of Dahmer victim Errol Lindsey, said of being featured in the show, “I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about creating it,” in an interview. No one asked me any questions. They went ahead and did it on their own.
As previously mentioned, there has always been and will continue to be a fascination with “Celebrity Monsters,” such as Jeffrey Dahmer, and his recent resurrection guarantees that we won’t have to wait long to see him again in documentary or fictional form. Serial killers have emerged as a unique commodity in the oversaturated media market.
In spite of the genre’s widespread appeal, it nevertheless has an “Ick Factor,” to use Kirby’s phrase. Even while “Monster” tried to head off some criticism, Netflix and the entertainment industry as a whole still haven’t solved that problem.
Both “Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes” and “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” is about the notorious serial killer.