New Netflix Dahmer series humanizes a monster


Netflix released a series depicting a more relatable and human side of an infamous serial killer that some argue diverts the attention of the viewer away from the victims.

Isabella Vines

A new Netflix series titled “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” depicts the life and killings of Jeffrey Dahmer, but what happens when you try to humanize a monster?

Dahmer, also known as “the Milwaukee Cannibal”, was an infamous serial killer from 1978 to 1991. He had a total of 17 victims which mostly consisted of black and brown homosexual men.

The Netflix show follows the entirety of Dahmer’s life, from birth to his death in prison. Subsequently, the viewers get to see his childhood and it’s certainly not pleasant.

In the show, viewers get to see these events occur in flashbacks.

He had an absent father and a drug addict mother, and they were almost always seen fighting and arguing.

Dahmer witnessed traumatic events such as his mother threatening to stab his father.

By showing this, the show shines a different light on Dahmer; a more humanizing one. These memories create a sense of pity and empathy for Dahmer, as many people have experienced similar things growing up.

These experiences certainly helped mold Dahmer into the person that he would become. Even so, it is no excuse for the heinous crimes that he committed against innocent people.

Plenty of people have terrible childhoods without growing up to be a murderer. As humans, we try to rationalize why somebody would do such things, but sometimes there simply isn’t a concrete answer.

I thought it was gross for “Monster” to try and pin a reason for Dahmer’s actions. It felt unnecessary to include in a series that was supposed to highlight the stories of the victims and their families.

As a true crime lover myself, trying to make sense of a criminal’s actions can be a difficult thought. However, it is certainly intriguing to me.

How could a human being do this to another human being? What must go through their minds to do such a thing?

What makes these people any different from us? Psychologically speaking, of course.

I think these very questions are what attract me, and many others, to watching true crime media.

Watching his sad upbringing left me feeling nauseous. No child deserves to live through those things, so it made me actually feel bad for Dahmer.

Feeling bad for Dahmer is certainly a confusing experience. If he hadn’t had the childhood that he did, would he still have done the same things?

The main focus of the show is Dahmer and his life.

The show does a poor job at actually acknowledging the lives of Dahmer’s victims. There is only one full episode that showed the life of one of the victims before their fate with Dahmer.

When watching that episode, it made their death more impactful and emotional. As a viewer, there was a connection made to the victim.

That feeling, that sorrow, is exactly what the show should have focused on. Instead, we get Dahmer’s sob story and what he felt.

The pity that is felt for Dahmer should be directed towards the victims and their families. It would make the show much more memorable and touching.

Although the show intended to focus on the victims, the major appeal was another retelling of the Dahmer story. It is difficult to explore the stories of the victims without bringing Dahmer into it.

This is mostly owed to the fact that it is a peculiar case. Dahmer was no ordinary man.

Morbid curiosity plays a major role in why the public is so obsessed with Dahmer. The fact that a man was capable of killing, dismembering, assaulting, and eating people is disturbingly fascinating.

Despite the fact that there have been many forms of media made about Dahmer, they still keep coming. Was this new Netflix adaptation necessary?

It’s hard to say whether or not the show was necessary because what makes a show “necessary”? A show is really just meant to entertain or inform an audience in some way.

Since it was a Netflix series, in order to keep people watching there were many details changed and dramatized. As a result, it wasn’t completely accurate to the real story.

The biggest inaccuracy was his “neighbor” Glenda Cleveland. In the show, she lives right next door, but in reality she lived in the building next to his.

I don’t think that this change was a big deal, however. It created a character that made the story easy to follow and keep consistent.

Overall, the series was worth watching. However, it definitely could’ve been made better with more focus and empathy with the victims and their stories.