“Dahmer’s” Moral Conundrum

Why the new series isn't worth streaming

On Sept. 21 Netflix released, “Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story.” Since then, the series has become the top show on Netflix in various countries on five continents.

As the popularity of the new show grows, opinions on whether watching the show is ethical have surfaced on the internet.  

When I first heard about the show, I was excited to watch it. Then, one day when I was scrolling through Twitter, I saw a tweet that said the people watching the show were being entertained by others’ trauma. This raised a question I never asked before: are serial killer crime shows ethical?

Photo by: Sienna Parmelee

I asked my roommate about it and she filled me in. The families of Jeffery Dahmer’s victims are still alive, and they never clearly consented to Netflix making and releasing this show. Because of this, people have started questioning why others are viewing it.

The controversy has put me in a weird spot—do I watch it or not? I still want to, but I can see where these views are coming from. Putting myself in the victims’ families’ shoes, I don’t think I’d be thrilled with the situation either. 

Here’s what I think—so many movies and documentaries have already been made about this specific serial killer. While it’s an interesting topic and people thrive off of this kind of media, we are completely blind to who this affects.  

There’s enough information on Dahmer, and making another show about him feels a little like Netflix is beating a dead horse. Maybe we should move on so the victims’ families finally can too. 

Casting “American Horror Story” star Evan Peters as Dahmer glamorizes the serial killer and removes him from the reality of his murders. Fans are romanticizing and “stanning” Dahmer, forgetting that he’s a serial killer and not actually Peters.  

Whenever a new series about a serial killer comes out, we see social media users dabbling in hybristophilia, the sexual attraction in a person who commits a crime. This is wrong because, once again, it takes away from the reality of Dahmer’s crimes and victims. While not every viewer has participated in this behavior, casting well-known, conventionally attractive and relatively popular actors encourages it. 

This series has been described as intense and hard to watch. Dahmer’s murders are dramatized and reenacted. This puts the victims’ families in agony and forces them to relive their worst fears over and over again. Other gut-churning scenes are shown, such as the dissection of roadkill and the drinking of human blood.  

Regardless of the goriness of these scenes, the show is mentally disturbing. Watching Dahmer repeatedly get away with rape, murder and cannibalism reminds the viewers that there are people out there that are capable of the worst.  

While I have the show waiting for me on my list, I don’t think I will stream it. After listening to the reasoning and really thinking about those families, I can’t see myself not feeling guilty afterward.  

True crime can be interesting and entertaining, but there’s a fine line between right and wrong. For me, this show feels like the line has been crossed in a way that can’t be undone.