Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story Review

Dahmer - Monster The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Image Source: Radio Times

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story on Netflix is the latest form of entertainment following the documentaries and biopic films based on the events that occurred throughout Jeff Dahmer’s life. Unfortunately, these events were real and were definitely not entertaining. The adjective which is more suitable to describe this story would be incomprehensible, as the events that occurred to the victims feels almost fictional and hard to believe that these were real crimes committed to real people.

A quote from episode ten of this show sums up the reality that may be forgotten about when traumatic events like this occur. ‘Our sons weren’t just Jeff Dahmer’s victims, they were real people, they lived, they sang in the choir, they loved and danced, teased their sisters, they were young men who had hopes and dreams for the future.’

Historical Context

Dahmer’s reign of terror lasted between the late 1970s to the early 1990s, during this time the AIDS epidemic was happening simultaneously. This meant that many gay men didn’t only suffer from death or illness related to AIDS, but they also suffered from acts of violence and discrimination. With Jeffrey Dahmer’s sexual preference and his primary targets being black men of the LGBT community, this meant the police were very reluctant to take any reports seriously if they had any connotations of homosexuality.

Jeffrey Dahmer has distinguished himself from other infamous serial killers, as he had 17 victims over the course of 13 years, drugging them to sleep so they wouldn’t feel the pain he knew he would cause them. Many scenes from this Netflix series are taken from real events, such as the court scene, with the victims’ families giving speeches in court about how they will never get justice for his actions, or that whatever punishment he receives will never be enough, and that their lost loved one can’t be brought back to life.


This plot follows a non-linear narrative that goes back and forth between significant times in Dahmer’s life, from high school, to prison, to Jeff stalking his victims in gay bars and moments from his childhood. However, a large portion of the storytelling also focuses on his victims, their families and Jeff’s parents, while this may seem to be a step in the right direction for biopics for serial killers, getting to know the victims, watching their personalities evolve, hearing their aspirations just makes this series much more tragic.

The story around Jeff’s early life as a teenage and young adult depicts him in a more relatable manner than what he’s known for. This series depicts many of the issues Dahmer struggled with including alcoholism, accepting his homosexuality and how he coped with his parents’ divorce and abandonment. The portrayal of the characters within this show make it very clear that no matter how bad your own issues are, they do not justify murder, dismemberment, necrophilia, cannibalism and sexual assault.

Characters And Actors

It’s important to recognise these ‘characters’ aren’t just characters, they were people who lived, and this is their story being told. Evan Peters gave a phenomenal, eerie and true to life performance, portraying the devil incarnate. Peters has demonstrated through his portrayal of Jeffrey Dahmer that so much research and preparation went into that role, replicating Dahmer’s behaviours, movements, speech and awkwardness.

Peters’ performance as Dahmer can be interpreted as a more sinister and disturbing representation of this story in comparison to Ross Lynch’s depiction of Jeffrey Dahmer in the 2017 film ‘My Friend Dahmer’. This is not to undermine Lynch’s performance, as these are two separate entities of the same story, both serving two different purposes. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story attempts to cover Dahmer’s entire life, from childhood to death, whereas My Friend Dahmer takes place in a more specific time in his life, Senior Year of high school (1978), the beginning of his descent into darkness.

Key Roles

Other significant roles in this series were: Niecy Nash as Glenda Cleveland and Richard Jenkins as Lionel Dahmer. Two prominent figures within this story, both of whom stood out with their own individual character development. While they may not have been murdered and dismembered, these two were also victims of Jeffrey Dahmer in their own right, suffering because of his actions, flipping their life upside down.


Was this show necessary? No. There have already been several portrayals of this story, along with several documentaries which go into full detail of the crimes without the dramatization. Is this show worth watching? Absolutely. Fantastic storytelling methods on display throughout the show, plenty of character development, brilliant acting, and a reflection of racism and homophobia in the second half of the 20th century, just don’t watch it at night time.