While Evan Peters has played some wicked characters throughout his career and Ryan Murphy has created his fair share of true crime miniseries, both have likely not worked on a project as brutal and talked-about as Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. The series has been called out by many, and now a friend of a couple of Dahmer’s victims is criticizing the Netflix series.
The person speaking out is Eric Wynn, who was the only Black drag queen at Club 219 in Milwaukee around the same time that Jeffrey Dahmer committed many of his murders. Wynn told The New York Times that he got to know Eddie Smith and Anthony Hughes through the venue. He said he noticed over the years that the number of Black men coming into the club was dwindling, saying “all of the sudden there were less of them.” Dahmer frequented this club, and between 1978 and 1991, he killed 17 men, including Smith and Hughes. When asked about the Netflix choosing to produce the series, which is one of the highly discussed shows on the fall 2022 TV schedule, Wynn said:
Many have now spoken out about the show, saying that they don’t understand why there was a need to dramatize this story. A sister of one of Dahmer’s victims shared that watching the show felt like “reliving it all over again.” She also noted that the families of the victims were not asked permission to make the show. A journalist who covered the story about Dahmer along with crew members who worked on the miniseries also voiced complaints about the show.
Eric Wynn explained that the show disappointed him in part because of Ryan Murphy's involvement. Before Dahmer, Murphy had created productions such as The Normal Heart, based on the play by AIDS activist Larry Kramer and Pose, a show about New York City’s ballroom scene (an LGBTQ subculture in Latin and Black communities) in the ‘80s. Wynn said he liked the latter but was surprised by Murphy's latest offering, saying:
He is not the only person to be upset about how the show is “attacking the Black gay community.” The show was listed with an LGBTQ+ tag on the streaming platform, but Netflix subscription-holders quickly verbalized their issues with that tag, and the streamer removed it. Amid the controversy, a person on Twitter criticized the show, and said doing it was “exploiting the trauma” of victims.
In the last week, we’ve also heard from Paul Ksicinski, the former lawyer of a victim who survived their encounter with the late murderer. He explained that his client, Tracy Edwards, was forever traumatized by the situation. The traumatizing event in Edwards' life is shown in the first episode of Dahmer.
While Dahmer is the most-watched show on Netflix since Season 4 of Stranger Things dropped this summer, the discourse around it has been critical. And with the backlash still steady, one has to wonder if Ryan Murphy himself might speak out on the matter.
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Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor and resident Swiftie at CinemaBlend. She also adores (and writes about) Ted Lasso, rom-coms and whatever streaming series is gracing our screens.