Families Of Jeffrey Dahmer’s Victims Are Hurt By Netflix


Every story has multiple sides, no matter what the entertainment industry tries to makes us believe. We can either choose to see only one, or we take the time to question those sides to see where we stand. This is what I’m currently trying to do when it comes to the “Jeffrey Dahmer entertainment world”.

The hidden side of Netflix’s Jeffrey Dahmer show


Credit: Netflix

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Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan’s latest show Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, starring Evan Peters in the titular role and available to watch on Netflix, has shocked the victims’ families. Depicted in the show, they expressed their disappointment and shock towards the series, accusing Netflix of making them relive their past trauma and gaining profit from the tragedies they suffered.

Families of Dahmer’s victims speak up against Netflix

Netflix Rita Isbell

Credit: Netflix

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During Dahmer’s trial in 1992, Rita Isbell – sister of Errol Lindsey, one of Dahmer’s victims – gave a testimony that has been widely broadcast ever since. On September 22nd, 2022, a Twitter user named Eric – Isbell’s cousin – tweeted in response to the show.

I’m not telling anyone what to watch, I know true crime media is huge [right now], but if you’re actually curious about the victims, my family (the Isbell’s) are pissed about this show. It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?” He continued in another tweet, affirming that “no, they don’t notify families when they do this. It’s all public record, so they don’t have to notify (or pay!) anyone.” He confirmed that his family found out about the show “like everyone else did.

He then commented on Netflix’s intention to do the show with respect to the families.

So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the families’ or ‘honoring the dignity of the families’, no one contacts them. 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.

Later, on September 26th, 2022, Insider published an essay based on their conversation with Rita Isbell about how she felt while watching the scene of her 1992 statement in the show.

It felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then,” Isbell stated. “But I’m not money hungry, and that’s what this show is about, Netflix trying to get paid,”

She felt that if there had been any form of compensation for the victim’s children, the show wouldn’t have felt so “harsh and careless.”

Is Netflix developing a habit of making profit from people’s miseries?

READ MORE: Blonde On Netflix Leaves Viewers ‘Disgusted’

Accusations were made against the show for its inconsistencies and over-dramatized tones, which some consider as allowing a glorification of Jeffrey Dahmer’s murders. Other true crime shows and movies have suffered the same accusations. In 2019, Netflix’s Ted Bundy movie, titled Extremely Wicked, Shokingly Evil and Vile, was accused of serial killer glorification by choosing Zac Efron for the titular role, which some viewed as a way of romanticizing Bundy. I remember when social media was becoming out of control because so many women were fantasizing over Efron-Bundy.

Netflix is also currently suffering backlash over Blonde, the movie adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’s fiction novel about beloved Marylin Monroe. The online discourse is mainly accusing the streaming platform of using the real pains of the American actress to humiliate her instead of honouring her, which really doesn’t sit well with the audience.

How far can entertainment go?


Credit: Netflix

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I personally cannot encourage contents that make a profit out of people’s suffering, for a simple reason. We’re talking about entertainment here. Entertainment is supposed to, well, entertain people. Who are we if we base our entertainment on real people’s traumas, without trying to honour them, pay respect, or teach us something?

I’m not saying that content based on true life events are to be avoided, don’t get me wrong, some of my favourite movies are biopics. But I do think that stories based on real events should always come from a good, positive place. They should pay attention to faithfulness, and respect real victims and their families by letting them know that ‘hey, we’re making a show about the man who traumatized you, just to let you know’. Or for cases like Blonde, which deals with a widely beloved human being, they should pay tribute to the person they’re representing and show respect and dignity, not dehumanize them.

Watching Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is okay, I mean, Evan Peters is a great actor who certainly delivers a stellar performance. But I do think it’s important to remember that while thousands of TikToks, youtube videos and social media posts are published about the series… the family is currently hurting.

What do you make of this news? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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There are 2 comments

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  1. Maren

    Much to my surprise, I found myself shedding tears for each one of the victims whose pictures were shown at the end of the 10th episode. As a true-crime fanatic since I was a teenager in the 90s, I have always been drawn to “true-crime” novels (as evidenced by the volumes of books I have purchased and read over the years). Nonetheless, I have always avoided stories or history about monsters like Jeffrey Dahmer or Ed Gein – the horrors they inflicted on innocent people were just too much for me to handle.

    If it had not been for this Netflix series, the director, and the actors involved, I never would have learned about Dahmer’s victims. While I can only imagine the trauma the victims’ families and friends have endured for all these years, they should know that I am grateful to have watched this series, just so that I could catch a brief glimpse in the victims’ lives and learn about the sons, grandsons, brothers, nephews, and friends who were lost at the hands of Jeffrey Dahmer.

  2. basket random

    I have never read about or studied the history of monsters like Jeffrey Dahmer or Ed Gein because the atrocities they committed against innocent people were just too much for me to bear.

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