TV Show Review: New Netflix Dahmer show captures failures of police, pain of victims’ families

Mini-series is well-reseached, terrifying; concerns of its ethicality nonetheless



“Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” can be streamed on Netflix. However, should you stream it, do so thoughtfully and respectfully.

PARKER R. SCHAFER, Evergreen columnist

“Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” the new Netflix series, shows the horrendous and scary life of murder, rape, drugging and cannibalism performed by the infamous serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. 

The series shows the aggressive and sociopathic tendencies of a young Dahmer in school early on. Due to his solitary behavior, Dahmer had no friends and was a prime target for bullying. 

Dahmer appeared to have good intentions as a kid. However, some of the first signs of his sociopathy became clear after the teacher gave some tadpoles he had gifted to her to another student. 

He followed the student home and walked into the kid’s house (unbeknownst to the other kid), stole the tadpoles back, and filled their jar with motor oil in vengeance.

Young Dahmer is portrayed by child actor Nick A. Fisher, who plays the role for the first two episodes extremely well (especially for a child actor). He perfectly captures the signs of pure evil that were evident in Dahmer even in childhood.

Another outstanding role in the show is Joyce Dahmer, played by Penelope Anne Miller.

Miller’s outstanding performance portrays the poor parenting that helped lead to Dahmer’s fucked-up future. Popping pills before Dahmer was born and throughout his childhood, being suicidal, neglectful and verbally abusive throughout his life, Joice was clearly intended to be disliked.

Dahmer himself was played by actor Evan Peters, who shares a scary likeness to the serial killer, similar to that of Zach Efron and Ted Bundy in the movie “Extremely Evil, Shockingly Wicked, And Vile.” 

One of the most important partakers in this show is a woman named Glenda Cleveland, played by Niecy Nash. Cleveland was the woman who lived next door to Dahmer and had to live with the smell of cooked human meat and death that arose through the apartment. She is shown to have called the police numerous times, to no avail. 

The failure of the police in this show is illustrated with no restraint as they repeatedly fail to do their jobs.

This then leads to the cops at fault getting less than a slap on the wrist with a paid suspension and getting their jobs back jeering about the situation and how nobody can touch them. 

This scene elicits almost as much disgust from the viewer as the cannibalism.

Cleveland tried to get the police to arrest Dahmer on one occasion, but they instead escorted one of his victims, a 14-year-old boy named Konerak Sinthasomphone, back to the house with him.

The Sinthasomphone family is heavily focused on for this series, as two of their family members had unfortunate run-ins with the killer. However, only one of them survived. 

A lot of this show is well-shot and does a good job of portraying the pain and the way that the victim’s families were affected. All things considered, I will give it a rating of nine out of ten. 

The reason that I have docked a full point is not just because any show is bound to have flaws, but also because the show seemingly did not ask for consent from the family members. 

In fact, many victims’ family members have spoken out on Twitter saying how appalled they are that they have been tossed aside for some content to be created.

Over the years, there has been a lot of Dahmer-related content; “My Friend Dahmer” from 2017, an episode of “Conversations with a Killer,” “The Jeffrey Dahmer” tapes on Netflix and “Dahmer on Dahmer: A Serial Killer Speaks are only a fraction of the media depicting his horrific crimes. 

Dahmer took the world by fear and fascination from 1978-1991. His victims were young, and many of their family members who were affected are still around. 

Dahmer affected the lives of 17 people’s families, who will forever hate and fear the world and still reel from the loss of their family members, and the studios’ constant depictions of their pain through sensationalized means only stands to deepen the wounds. 

It also contributes to our society’s off idolization of serial killers. 

Even when they were on trial, portions of the public were enamored with killers: when Ted Bundy and Dahmer were on death row, they received love letters, nudes and gifts. Richard Ramirez, another notorious serial killer, even got married on death row. 

It is disgusting that families have to see the person who violated them so viciously being idolized, and continuing to create media centered around them without consulting these families forces them to relive their pain for literal generations.

Pursuing true crime can be an enjoyable hobby; clearly, I indulge in it myself. However, it needs to be done ethically, and with respect for the victims and their families.