Ryan Murphy’s Dahmer, a 10-part crime drama that recounts the life and death of infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, could end up being the biggest hit Netflix has ever produced thus far. Though millions of people are watching it, the limited series is also drowning in controversy, with critics claiming that we don’t need yet another retelling of Dahmer’s story, while friends and family members of the real-life victims have complained that bringing Dahmer back into the spotlight has re-traumatized them all over again.
In addition, as several of Dahmer’s victims were men of color, many contend that systemic racism is partly what allowed Dahmer to operate for so long without being detected. Nor did it help the series when Netflix classified it under LGBTQ content. But now, Murphy — who co-created the series with Ian Brennan — has spoken out to set the record straight.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Murphy discussed the research process that he and his team went through over the course of nearly four years in order to bring Dahmer to the screen. And says that one part of that was attempting to speak with those closest to some of Dahmer’s victims, in order to create a show that could tell the story partly through their eyes. On Thursday, during an event for the series at Los Angeles’ DGA Theatre, Murphy explained:
It’s something that we researched for a very long time. And we — over the course of the three, three and a half years when we were really writing it, working on it — we reached out to 20, around 20, of the victims’ families and friends trying to get input, trying to talk to people. And not a single person responded to us in that process. So we relied very, very heavily on our incredible group of researchers who… I don’t even know how they found a lot of this stuff. But it was just like a night and day effort to us trying to uncover the truth of these people.
Murphy also stated that part of their purpose in making the series was to address the many isms that allowed Dahmer to get away with his crimes for so long: “Something that we talked a lot in the making of it is we weren’t so much interested in Jeffrey Dahmer, the person, but what made him the monster that he became,” Murphy said. “We talked a lot about that… and we talked about it all the time. It’s really about white privilege. It’s about systemic racism. It’s about homophobia.”
“We really want it to be about celebrating these victims,” added Paris Barclay, who co-directed two episodes of the series with Murphy.. “When Tony writes ‘I won’t disappear’ on that last card, that’s what this show is about. It’s about making sure these people are not erased by history and that they have a place and that they’re recognized and that they were important and that they lived full lives. And they came from all sorts of different places, but they were real people. They weren’t just numbers. They weren’t just pictures on billboards and telephone poles. They were real people with loving families, breathing, living, hoping. That’s what we wanted it to be about.”
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)