The new Netflix show about the life and crimes of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer puts too much attention on the murder and not enough on the victims.

Released on Sept. 23rd, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” focuses on the life and crimes of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer as he brutally murdered 17 men over the course of 13 years, from 1978 to his final arrest in 1991.

The largest part of the show is about Dahmer’s life as a whole, going from his childhood in episode two to his parent’s divorce and first victim in episode three. The series outlines the major events that took place while painting a very detailed picture of Dahmer’s mannerisms and how his upbringing shaped them. 

The story does not move on from detailing Dahmer’s life until the sixth episode, where it shifts to tell the story of one of Dahmer’s victims, Anthony Hughes, who was deaf and visiting his mother at the time that he and Dahmer met. 

The audience is shown how ambitious and driven Hughes was as an aspiring model and college student. He meets Dahmer and is lured back to his apartment in Milwaukee where Dahmer then kills him. Seeing Hughes’ backstory and the way he was so full of life and determination was heartbreaking. It leaves one wondering why the other victims were not focused on as heavily in the show. 

The only other victim’s story that has significant screen time is Konerak Sinthasomphone, a 14-year-old boy whose brother had been previously molested by Dahmer. The depth of his story is only emphasized in the show, however, after Dahmer is arrested and focuses more on his family’s grieving process than his actual life.

Because of this lack of focus on the victims’ stories and so much information about Dahmer, the show felt off balance and full of unnecessary details. The audience did not need to know so much about someone who committed such horrible deeds. Dahmer was not worth remembering as well as this show outlined his life, and any remembrance should have been centered around the people he hurt and their loved ones who still suffer today.

One of the things that the show did do well was portraying the devastating injustice when it came to the judicial system and law enforcement presence in the process of stopping and capturing Dahmer. He had previously been arrested twice before his final conviction for murder: once for public indecency and again for child molestation. For the molestation charge, he spent a year in a correctional facility with work leave. 

This scene was incredibly infuriating to watch because the judge, thinking that he was doing Dahmer a favor, gave him a lesser sentence and concealed the nature of his crime on his record. Through these actions, the judge frustratingly enabled Dahmer to continue in his pattern of despicable behavior. 

Another scene that showed the negligence of law enforcement was with his victim Konerak Sinthasomphone. Sinthasomphone actually managed to escape, drugged and bleeding, from Dahmer’s apartment after Dahmer attacked him. However, when the police were called by one of Dahmer’s neighbors to check out the scene, they escorted Sinthasomphone back into Dahmer’s apartment after he convinced them that Sinthasomphone was his 19-year-old boyfriend who had drunk too much. 

Furthermore, Hughes’s body, Dahmer’s most recent victim, was still in the apartment laying by his bed. If the officers had done a more thorough job of inspecting his apartment at that time, they would have been able to stop him from murdering more people. 

These scenes also highlighted the racial tension throughout the series as many of the victims of Dahmer and those trying to stop and report him were black or brown. The tenants in his apartment complex called the police multiple times, saying that something was happening and they heard screaming. However, the police were portrayed as apathetic and not at all motivated to intervene. 

While these highlights were influential and well done, they came much later on in the show and were not emphasized as much as they should have been. In the end, one walks away from watching the show knowing so much about Dahmer and not much about his victims besides their names.

Storytelling is a power that can easily be abused and this show certainly did that. Whether it meant to or not, it romanticized and humanized Dahmer. It gave him power, even this far after his death, to affect people for the worst instead of being remembered for what he truly is, someone worth forgetting.