◐ Series Name: Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
◐ Creator: Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan
◐ Genre: True Crime Dramatisation
◐ Episodes: 10
◐ Synopsis: Jeffrey Dahmer is notorious for killing a number of boys and men, primarily of colour and within the LGBTQ community. This series explores Dahmer’s background from his birth to death, some of his victims and their families, and the effects of his crimes on them and his own family.
Recommended for true crime fans, those looking for a pretty solid rendering of the Jeffrey Dahmer story, with a strong(er) focus on his victims
disturbing images, cannibalism, murder, violence, necrophilia
◐ Review: 4/5 ⭐
It feels somehow wrong to give this series such a high rating, considering the content matter. However, I think this show did a decent job of portraying a horrendous case, one with effects that echo through to today.
For true crime aficionados, the name Jeffrey Dahmer may be one of the most well-known in the line-up of notorious serial killers. His crimes were particularly gruesome, which I won’t get into here.
The first half of Monster focuses on Dahmer: his childhood, his family, and his first murder. The second half focuses more on some of his victims and their families. The series contemplates systematic failures that allowed Dahmer to escape detection for years, in spite of endless warning signs.
Given the subject matter, this show proved deeply unsettling. This feeling crawled under my skin as I watched the first episode, and it did not abate as it continued. Now, I’m far from easily scared. I’ve built up my horror and gore tolerance dramatically over the past couple of years, thanks to my beloved.
That said, Monster gave me the creeps. It’s one thing to hear about horrible crimes, and another to watch them play out.
This, I believe, is why there exists an inherently thin line in the true crime genre. How do you tell a story like this without disrespecting those whose lives have been irrevocably destroyed? Few people do it well. This show does focus a bit more on the victims than on Dahmer, at least in the second half, than other true crime portrayals.
I won’t say that the series carries this balance well; from episode six to the end, it seemed to experience genre identity crisis, and the shift from a near-exclusive focus on Dahmer’s life to the victims and systems was jarring. In short, the two sides did not marry well.
Jeffrey Dahmer may be one of the more unique serial killers, in that once he was caught, he made no attempt to defend himself or deny the abhorrence of what he had done. He gave a detailed confession and repeatedly stated that he should be punished for his actions, requesting the death penalty.
This does not make his acts any less heinous or forgivable, but it does make me wonder about him. As my husband said, “Dahmer didn’t seem to have the narcissism or arrogance that other serial killers did.”
The truth is, there is far too much fascination with people like Dahmer. Because they are so different, so deranged. We wonder what could have led a person to commit such heinous acts. Perhaps we want to understand the impossible, terrified that such evil could reside in our own hearts.