Ryan Murphy Pushes Back on Dahmer Criticism, Netflix Removing LGBTQ Tag

Dahmer Ryan Murphy

Creator and executive producer Ryan Murphy has finally spoken out regarding the growing criticism of his Netflix biographical crime drama Dahmer– Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.

The series tells the story of Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer who horrifically murdered 17 men between the years of 1978 and 1991. Despite the show’s stated goal of “exposing these unconscionable crimes, centered around the underserved victims and their communities impacted by the systemic racism and institutional failures of the police,” the series took heat for its focus on the killer’s gruesome behavior and the specific framing of his victims’ stories.

Murphy pushed back, though, on the idea that doing a series about Dahmer was somehow glamorizing his actions in an extensive New York Times profile published over the weekend: “What are the rules now? Should we never do a movie about a tyrant?” He added that he wanted to tell Dahmer’s story because “it was the biggest thing I’ve ever seen that really sort of examines how easy it is to get away with things with the white privilege aspects.”

He also revealed that he objected to Netflix removing the LGBTQ tag from Dahmer after viewers complained: “I also don’t think that all gay stories have to be happy stories… I asked why they did that, and they said because people were upset because it was an upsetting story. I was, like, ‘Well, yeah.’ But it was a story of a gay man and more importantly, his gay victims.”

Some of the backlash came directly from victims’ families who accused the streamer and Murphy’s creative team of not contacting them about the production in advance. Rita Isbell, sister of Errol Lindsey who was murdered by Dahmer at the age of 19, criticized Netflix for profiting off of real-life tragedy and horror. Shirley Hughes, the mother of Tony Hughes, with whom Dahmer had a relationship before he was murdered, accused the series of dramatizing her son’s story. But at an event held last Thursday at Los Angeles’ DGA Theater, Murphy said he and his team did reach out to 20 victims’ families and friends during the three-and-a-half years spent on pre-production and research. However, he did not reveal, specifically, who was contacted during this time.

“We reached out to 20, around 20, of the victims’ families and friends trying to get input, trying to talk to people,” he said. “And not a single person responded to us in that process. So we relied 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.”

None of the aforementioned controversies or criticism could prevent the series’ success. Dahmer not only topped Nielsen’s U.S. ranking of streaming originals for the week of its release, but it delivered the chart’s 10th-biggest tally ever in its 110-week history. For its second week, it amassed nearly 4.4 billion minutes viewed across its 10 episodes — aka the seventh-best weekly performance ever in the Nielsen streaming chart’s history.

Did you watch Dahmer and what do you think about Murphy’s statements? Let us know by dropping a comment below.

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