‘Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’, success and controversy of the story about a serial killer

Jeffrey Dahmer has passed into the hateful Olympus of serial killers known as “the butcher of milwaukee” after murdering seventeen young menmostly gaymostly not whiteduring the eighties. necrophilia and cannibalism were part of their practices in several cases.

Not for the first time fiction deals with him. This time in the form of a miniseries of ten episodes, in Netflix, with a huge audience success. During its first week available, it was the most followed fiction internationally. The platform has also announced that it has already become the second most watched English-language series in its entire history..

On Netflix’s greatest hits list

It is difficult to know what keys are played and in what way to achieve an audience triumph. But the list of the five biggest hits on Netflix today provides some clues. First, it stands the squid gamewith one thousand six hundred and fifty million hours watched, after the fourth season of stranger things (1,350,000 hours), followed by the fifth installment of The Money Heist(792,000) Dahmer (701,370, and counting) and in fifth place the second season of The Bridgertons (656,250).

The first four proposals include violence as one of their main ingredients and are gimmicky. The five are juveniles, although not exclusively, of course. These four have something of an amusement park, with moments of increasing intrigue to the anguish that are sometimes resolved with relief and others in tragedy. They all belong to what is known in the television guild as high concept, That is, the initial premise it comes out of the everyday, which just by being enunciated generates an impact.

Based on an unlikely reality

on this podium only Monster tells a true story. But of those that seem implausible. How a young man of mediocre intelligence, more sloppy than meticulous, was able to carry out that staggering number of crimes without being stopped by the police.

The series has undoubted merits of its own, but the controversy over gloating and sensationalism has also begun to haunt it. Despite the fact that its creators have stated that they do not want to focus on the murderer as much as on his victims, the truth is that the first couple of episodes they detail the crimes with an almost unbearable parsimony. Maybe not gore, but blood is not the only path that leads to the morbid.

The murderer, the victims and other topics to talk about

Only later spaces are opened for other themes, the education of the monster, its psychology, the negligent and racist police investigation, popular culture trivializing pain or commodifying tragedy.

Episode six is ​​presented as a singular exercise within the series. The deafness of one of Dahmer’s victims, Tony Hughes, gives rise to a particularly emotional chapter full of silent fragments when her point of view is shown, alternated with sound moments.

It delves deeper into the victim than into the executioner, in his family and in his optimistic personality. But if, on the one hand, the episode lives up to what the creators say they want, on the other, it shows that other chapters are not.

Chapter seven focuses on one of the most important characters throughout the miniseries, that of Glenda Clevelandneighbor wall to wall of the murderer, who alerted the police numerous times to the noises and smells caused by Dahmer, and could even have prevented the death of the youngest of his victims if the agents who came to the house had treated him properly when he reported the facts.

This episode is titled cassandrain homage to the Greek legend in which the daughter of kings was granted the gift of prophecy, which did not help them believe her when she warned of the trap that the Trojan horse hid.

Serial killers in popular culture

The latest installments include more and more reflections on the place of murderers in popular culture, of the ambiguity of spreading their adventures with the result, albeit unwanted, of glorifying them, in a meta-reflection that does not lead to any definitive conclusion.

The debate is still open. In the series it is denounced that the Dahmer costume for Halloween became fashionable or the psychopath’s objects were coveted. But today, the protagonist of the series, Evan Peterscontinues to express the horror of the frivolization of his character.

Specially in TikTokone of the most youthful social networks, where videos circulate looking for photographs of the corpses that the murderer took, or montages with the hottest shots of the protagonist, like i’m a sex icon.

Peters emphasizes in his interviews that his obsession was not to romanticize, not to glamorize the murderer, but the mere fact of putting his figure in the center bears a part of responsibility in this result.

The paradox of respect for victims

The same paradox occurs with the victims. Ryan Murphycreator of the series, was set as a rule honor them and not mortify thembut some have protested the treatment of the narration or particular moments of the story. The denunciation of frivolization of terrible murders does not exempt from falling into the same.

On the other hand, the series is undoubtedly well done. The photography with grain and eighties colors reinforces the perfect setting. And the time jumps are linked with style, collecting crumbs that have been left previously sown. The actors are imposing and their characters vigorously written.

Peters does an impeccable job. The actor has already collaborated with Ryan on five seasons and several TV specials. American Horror Story. For his role as a policeman in the miniseries Mare of Easttown received the Emmy Award. They highlight the character of the murderer’s father, played by an intriguing Richard Dale Jenkins, the patriarch of Six meters below ground and the interpreter of the criminal’s neighbor, Niecy Nash.

With its virtues and defects is an absolutely characteristic series of its author, Ryan Murphy. The writer-director signed in 2018 an exclusive project development contract for five years with Netflix. The deal included a $300 million compensation clause, making him one of the highest-paid executive producers in the world.

Divas, gays and killers

Murphy has many hits behind him since PIN/Yourck to gleeor the successful sagas American Horror Story Y american crime story. It also has some failures, although its balance is impressively positive given how prolific it is writing, directing and producing.

He especially likes criminal stories, the great divas and gay characters. That does not exclude that he has also developed scripts of various other styles. He had already dealt with the subject of a murderer of homosexuals when he recreated during a season of american crime story the story of the young man who ended the life of Gianni Versace.

The screenwriter has spent his entire career speaking openly about his homosexuality. Part of the specific interest in these serial killers may be a complaint about the lack of police commitment when it comes to investigating crimes of this nature.

activism in favor of diversity

Murphy has been able to create some controversy with the series, but off screen he is an undisputed activist for diversity. In addition to numerous and important donations to LGTBQ + organizations or to fight against AIDS, he has joined a project to promote equal opportunities for women and minorities behind the cameras. This miniseries is an example of this in directing.

In the creation he has had the collaboration of Ian Brennan, one of the screenwriters with whom he works most frequently. Together they already have a new success on Netflix, The vigilant, a horror miniseries also based on real events. It could be a coincidence or the beginning of a new Murphy golden age.


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‘Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’, success and controversy of the story about a serial killer