Breaking Down Dahmer

Netflix’s DAHMER has gripped the country, but what are its deeper effects?

The Jeffery Dahmer series by Ryan Murphy has taken Netflix by storm. Released on September 21, 2022, it reached 196.2 million hours watched in its first week, with views still continuing to trend upwards. Starring Evan Peters, the series takes its viewer into the eyes of Dahmer, the prolific Milwaukee serial killer. It mainly follows his life as he committed his major crimes, showing the victims and various situations surrounding Dahmer unfold. The film is unlike a true crime show or documentary as it’s a reenactment of the real events, which leaves viewers spooked. The series quickly gained popularity, including around Garfield,“Everyone was talking about it.” Senior Jada Collins said.The word spread quickly through social media, with TikTok, Instagram and other media platforms flooded with Dahmer content. A popular topic seen was the contrasting similarities of the film to real life. When viewers saw scenes and actors in real life on social media compared to what was recorded for the film, there were striking similarities. “They were very similar, I thought it was very accurate.” Collins said. These eerie similarities have had many viewers impressed and the series has received lots of praise for how realistic it is. For some though, the realness in the blood and dingy feeling has been too much to handle. 


While the show quickly gained immense popularity and positive ratings, some argue that this has done more harm than good. For family members of the victims, the show has once again brought their cases into the public eye, digging up traumatic memories. For Rita Isabel, the sister of Errol Lindsey, one of Dahmer’s victims, the show has only brought back pain. “It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then,” Isabel said in a recent interview with the New York Times, “I was never asked about the show.” Like Isabel, many families are dismayed that Netflix never reached out before the series was released, despite its public assurances that the show was meant to honor and respect the victims.

Additionally, in the age of social media, the show continues to fuel a culture of violence that could easily be used as inspiration for troubled individuals. For many experts on the matter, including Nathaniel Brennan, a professor of cinema studies at New York University, the show could not have come at a worse time. “It is by nature an exploitative genre,” Brennan said in a recent lecture. “The victims become a pawn, a game or a symbol.” 

The characters become dehumanized, which Brennan argues, makes it much easier to rationalize violence on a person.

Overall, the series has received immense praise, while also creating a fair bit of controversy. From people dressing up as Dahmer for Halloween to reports of possible copy-cat killers, the show has certainly left its mark. But the question is — is this really an impact the world wants to see?