Dahmer: An uncomfortable but irresistible experience

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is Netflix’s most controversial show to date, an exploration into the mind of one of America’s most notorious serial killers

Dahmer is a difficult series to watch, but it’s even more difficult to take your eyes off the screen. That’s because we love watching serial killer shows. Series director Ryan Murphy knows this. From his work with American Horror Story, The Watcher, Ratched, and American Crime Story, he has proven time and time again that he fully understands what people want and, no matter how controversial or unpleasant, will take it to the next level. screen.

Exclusively on Netflix, the series brings one of America’s most notorious serial killers to the screen with a level of curiosity and investigation, giving the viewer a glimpse into the mind of the man. Dahmer tackles his story well, brings up the idea of ​​nature versus nurture, and decides (correctly) not to glamorize actual physical murders, as would have been so easy to do.

WHAT IS DAHMER – MONSTER: THE JEFFREY DAHMER STORY ABOUT?

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is Murphy’s take on the serial killer genre, focusing on the murders of 17 young men in the early 1990s in the Milwaukee area and Jeffrey Dahmer, who is responsible for them. . Running for 10 episodes (a series as ridiculously stretched as its title itself), the series introduces us to Dahmer’s childhood, his unstable family life, his repressed sexuality, his inability to maintain professional and personal relationships, the struggle to contain his barely hidden impulses and issues that seemed to be ignored by parents, police, educators, and literally anyone he came into contact with.

Dahmer is a tragedy waiting to happen and the series shows him as he goes from being a curious and introverted boy to the “monster” we see scouring gay bars for his victims in the early 90’s, and finally as a character. apparently repentant who seeks God and salvation towards his last days.

Each episode shows an image of a specific moment or a formative event in his life that we share, whether we like it or not. Certain victims, like Tony Hughes (Rodney Burford), Dahmer’s deaf-mute boyfriend, are focused on, but most fall into a background of horror by simply becoming part of their act.

At a time when racism and homophobia were deeply entrenched among law enforcement in the US, certain groups or communities were not given attention. This allowed Dahmer to hunt apparently without any risk of capture.

WHO IS PRESENT?

A series like this will rise or fall based on its central character, and Dahmer, in this regard, is blessed with an impressive performance from Evan Peters (American Horror Story, Mare Of Easttown, Wandavision).

Peters totally controls the screen with a perfect version of Dahmer, bringing to life the confusion, rage, sadness and cunning lethality he embodied. Having seen many interviews with the real Dahmer, I have to say that Peters is very clear. He can be pathetic and terrifying in the same scene and at no point does the performance turn into a parody of the man. It’s natural and safe and I hope that when awards season comes around his name deserves at least one mention.

In the series he is supported above all by Richard Jenkins, who plays Dahmer’s father, Lionel. A hugely conflicted man, Lionel Dahmer finds himself caught between loving his son and facing who he is; learning to accept the horror of the situation while at the same time mourning the loss.

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Jenkins is a prolific character actor and this is reflected in a perfectly nuanced performance. A broken man who never admits it, Lionel maintains his faith and love for his son, even in the face of public outrage, personal control, and overwhelming evidence that his son is the monster people believe him to be.

Of note is Niecy Nash, who excels in her role as Glenda Cleveland, Dahmer’s neighbor who tried, mostly in vain, to alert people to what was happening and unsuccessfully tried to save lives. Nash is a powerful woman and dominates her scenes. She is raw, believable and honest, a true talent.

DAHMER’S PROBLEM

Earlier this year, the biographical series Pammy And Tommy ran into trouble due to a lack of involvement and consent from one of the series’ leads, Pamela Anderson. The Jeffrey Dahmer story has the same problem. It appears that the families of Dahmer’s victims were not consulted during production. Ryan Murphy claims they made contact and got no response, but the families deny this.

Without the participation of families, it can become a very partial production. Show writers can control the facts of a situation to create an interesting, screen-worthy narrative, rather than the truth of what actually happened.

Although this may add to the drama and appeal of the series, it removes the credibility of the actual events and ultimately leads to the glorification of Dahmer and his murders. Instead of being a figure to be hated and reviled, we see him in a human and flawed light. The focus is on his inner struggle to be understood and accepted.

SHOULD YOU SEE DAHMER?

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is a solid show, well produced, directed, and written. However, at 10 episodes, the series is too long and sprawling. The show would have been better if it had focused more on the events and had the episodes cut, which in many cases seemed like filler.

Despite its problems, I think it’s a very solid series. It should be taken as a character study in the glamorization of murder through the press and public opinion, where the killer is elevated to stardom while the victims become nothing more than a forgotten and unimportant plot element.

Netflix has proven time and time again that true crime stories are hugely popular with their audiences. We seem to be fascinated by serial killers, and in that sense, Dahmer offers exactly what we’re looking for.

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is now available in its entirety on Netflix

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Dahmer: An uncomfortable but irresistible experience