‘Dahmer’ Is A Disturbing Masterpiece, But The Victims’ Families Say It’s Cruel

Even the most diehard true crime fan would say DAHMER – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is so dark and disturbing that it’s difficult to watch. It’s also a brilliant masterpiece from co-creators, writers and executive producers Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan.

Since its September 21 premiere, the limited drama series debuted at the top of the English TV list with more than 196 million hours viewed, making it the most-watched title in its first week. It was also in the Top 10 in 92 countries.

The ten-episode series details not only Dahmer’s dastardly deeds but also delves into his childhood and personal life, and what the viewer sees is an intensely lonely man. Murphy and Brennan’s depiction is a disturbingly dark masterpiece that does an incredible job of humanizing his 17 innocent victims and their heartbroken families.

Though their stories are told in this new telling, many of the victims’ families are horrified that the series is out. Their rage has sparked backlash online, with claims they were not contacted about the show and that this new telling is traumatizing them all over again.

Rita Isbell’s brother, Errol Lindsey, was a victim, and she says her family wasn’t contacted. She recently explained why she’s upset about her on-screen portrayal. “I was never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it. But I’m not money hungry, and that’s what this show is about, Netflix trying to get paid.”

She discussed the scene with an actress portraying her as she gave her victim impact statement at Dahmer’s 1992 sentencing. “If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought it was me. 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 the emotions I was feeling back then.”

Another Isbell family member, Eric, had a recent viral tweet that explains the pain his family is experiencing. “They don’t notify families when they do this. It’s all public record, so they don’t have to notify (or pay!) anyone. My family found out when everyone else did. So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the victims’ 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.”

Between 1978 and 1991, Dahmer took the lives of his victims in the most gruesome ways, and what he did to their bodies postmortem…I’ll leave those details out, but they are graphically shown and described in the series.

This new telling doesn’t shy away from exposing Dahmer’s heinous acts and the tragic fact that he got away with these unconscionable crimes because he was white in an underserved, marginalized community. His victims were overlooked in a legal system riddled with systemic racism, homophobia and institutional failures that favored him and blatantly ignored those he targeted. These issues still exist today, and this series spotlights this for a younger generation.

One police officer who pulled him over for drunk driving after his first kill, when he had garbage bags filled with body parts, was more concerned with Dahmer’s future than actually finding out what he was transporting in the middle of the night. Law enforcement repeatedly ignored his neighbor when she called to report foul smells and odd noises. One of America’s most notorious serial killers was allowed to continue his murderous spree in plain sight for over a decade. Though some officers were fired, others were allowed to remain on the force.

John Balcerzak and his partner were two Milwaukee police officers fired from the MPD and later reinstated after returning 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone to Dahmer in 1991. Balcerzak remained on the force until his retirement in 2017. This injustice is just one of many horrendous failures spotlighted in the series.

As disturbing and grotesque as the series is, the performances are phenomenal. Evan Peters is brilliant as Jeffrey Dahmer. Richard Jenkins flawlessly portrays his father, Lionel Dahmer, who tried to help his son but turned a blind eye to many red flags over the years. Molly Ringwald undergoes a stunning transformation as Dahmer’s stepmother, Shari. And last but certainly not least, Niecy Nash is spectacular as Glenda Cleveland, Dahmer’s frustrated neighbor who repeatedly called the police to report foul odors from his apartment and loud noises she determined were people getting killed. She was ignored time and again as Dahmer and his victims slipped through the cracks.

Netflix was contacted for comment but had not responded when this was published. The article will be updated with any comments received.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danafeldman/2022/09/28/dahmer-is-a-disturbing-masterpiece-but-the-victims-families-say-its-cruel/