Ryan Murphy’s Dahmer, with Evan Peters going method for months to play the eponymous killer, was a huge smash hit for Netflix. It was also met, somewhat paradoxically, with a backlash about the way it allegedly glorified Jeffrey Dahmer or underserved the stories of his victims or their families. True crime stories that take the killer’s point-of-view, or at least emphasize the killer’s point-of-view, are always kind of controversial, but something about the horror of Dahmer’s crimes and the fact that he was played by Peters just multiplied the controversy for some people. Throw in the fact that Murphy later admitted that he did reach out to the loved ones of Dahmer’s victims and “not a single person responded,” and you have a lot of support for the side arguing that maybe he shouldn’t have done this.
But, naturally, Ryan Murphy stands by Dahmer, explaining in a New York Times profile that he made the show to explore how homophobia and racism allowed Dahmer’s murders to continue, saying that his story 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 questions what “the rules” are now, saying, “Should we never do a movie about a tyrant?”
Slightly more surprisingly, Murphy stands by Dahmer so much that he objected to Netflix removing the LGBTQ tag from the series—which most streamers tend to use to highlight positive representations of LGBTQ people, so its use on Dahmer offended some viewers. Murphy says he asked Netflix why they removed the tag on his show, and says he was told that “people were upset because it was an upsetting story,” but he says that’s the point. “It was a story of a gay man and, more importantly, his gay victims.”