Victims’ Families React to Netflix Show ‘Dahmer’

On September 21, 2022, Netflix released its new television crime drama, Dahmer—Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story. The series is successful, having remained in Netflix’s “Top 10 TV Shows in the U.S. Today” category since its release. With its growing popularity, the show has garnered both attention and controversy. The series is essentially a retelling of serial killer Jeffery Dahmer’s crimes, chronicling the murders and giving viewers a deeper dive into the lives of his victims. Many viewers found the series’ reenactments of the real-life events to be enticing, but there were also those who did not: in particular, the victims’ families. According to an Insider article written by Kelsey Vlamis, Rita Isbell, the sister of victim Errol Lindsey, was not fond of her portrayal in the show. She told Insider, “When I saw some of the show, it bothered me, especially when I saw myself…Her hair was like mine, she had on the same clothes.  That’s why it felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all of the emotions I was feeling back then.” Isbell also added that Netflix did not reach out to her prior to the series’ release. Journalist Remy Tumin wrote in her The New York Times article that the “families of the victims questioned the need to dramatize and humanize a serial killer at all”.

When asked about their reaction to the victims’ families’ perspectives on ‘Dahmer’, BSU students were very vocal about their opinions. Sophomore Ana DeFaria (she/her) responded, “I stopped watching it because the families weren’t okay with the series being out. Since they don’t want it out, then I don’t see the point. Especially since the guy that played Jeffery Dahmer, I remember him saying something like ‘I don’t want the series to romanticize Jeffery Dahmer, I want it to be about the victims.’” Defaria continued, “[the victims’ families] are not making any profit out of it and they should be.” Sophomore Danilsh McKoy (she/her) also responded, “Honestly I feel like Netflix just wanted to profit off of a very famous but sad story. At the same time, I feel like Netflix wanted bring awareness to people like Jeffery with mental issues…they should also respect the families because what the victims went through was obviously a very traumatizing experience and seeing it thrown back in your face is very hurtful.”

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