The newest Netflix true-crime limited series, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, has become Netflix’s most successful premiere since Stranger Things Season 4.
The new limited series premiered on the platform on September 21. It comes as a part of the five-year deal creator Ryan Murphy made with the popular streaming service. Evan Peters offers us the most prolific on-screen representation of the cannibalistic serial killer since Ross Lynch in the 2017 film, My Friend Dahmer.
The series covers Dahmer’s origins up to his eventual death in the Columbia Correctional Institution. It is different from other projects dealing with Dahmer, in the sense that it also pays particular attention to his victims and their families. It thus helps in humanizing the victims rather than romanticizing the serial killer.
Nevertheless, Peter’s brilliant portrayal of Dahmer along with the show’s graphic dramatizations of his murders appealed to true crime drama fans who made it a massive hit for the streaming platform.
According to Deadline, 196.2 million people watched the show, making it the fifth-most-watched series premiere since Netflix’s viewership data re-modeling last June. Apart from Dahmer, only Squid Game, All of Us Are Dead, Stranger Things Season 4, and Bridgerton Season 2 drew more viewers in the given time frame.
The viewership numbers for the show are surprising but could prove to be problematic for Netflix. Evan Peters is an extremely popular TV star, so watching him portray such a controversial figure might seem intriguing. Even though true crime is one of the most-watched genres on Netflix, initial expectations did not see Dahmer match up to the viewership of the likes of Stranger Things and Squid Game.
Much of this hesitation involves the abundance of Dahmer-related media already in existence. It also compels viewers to question the show’s seemingly redundant interpretation of a mortifying time in the history of the US that many would wish to forget.
Living relatives of the families who were directly impacted by Dahmer’s deeds during his active years have already reported feeling traumatized by the dramatic depictions of the murders. Thus, there’s both a good and a bad side to the show’s massive success.
On one hand, its success will inspire Netflix to fund more true crime projects due to the massive response. On the other hand, the moral implications of revisiting gruesome crimes might paint Netflix as exploitative of real-life tragedies, which might affect its reputation and viewership.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that true crime dramas should not be made at all, since there’s a large section of people who enjoy such content. Moreover, the depiction of real-life tragedies does not necessarily imply the exploitation of the trauma of survivors.
Hopefully, Netflix will consider both aspects and take calculated decisions in the future.
About Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is an American limited biographical crime drama series co-created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, which premiered on Netflix on September 21, 2022. The series follows the murders of infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, portrayed by Evan Peters.