Netflix’s “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” is a ratings juggernaut for the streaming service, but the Ryan Murphy series has been plagued by ethical complaints since it premiered. Some questioned the effects that of dramatizing such horrifying events could have on the victims’ families, while others are just sick of true crime shows and find the genre incredibly unhelpful.
The latest voice to weigh in on the show is Anne Schwartz, a journalist who broke the story of Dahmer’s killings when she worked as a crime reporter for the Milwaukee Journal in 1991. In a new interview with The Independent, Schwartz criticized the show on different grounds: she thinks it takes too much artistic license, and said that the series “does not bear a great deal of resemblance to the facts of the case.”
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Schwartz pointed out that Glenda Cleveland, played by Niecy Nash on the series, was not literally Dahmer’s neighbor, a detail that immediately distracted her from the show and made her question its accuracy.
“In the first five minutes of the first episode you have Glenda Cleveland knocking on his door. None of that ever happened,” Schwartz said. “I had trouble with buy-in, because I knew that was not accurate. But people are not watching it that way, they’re watching it for entertainment.”
Schwartz also disagrees with the show’s decision to portray the police officers investigating the case as homophobic and racially biased, dismissing the choice as an unfair treatment of people she spent considerable amounts of time with.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with them, interviewing the people who were at the scene,” she said. “Again this is a dramatisation, but at a time when it is not exactly easy for law enforcement to get trust and buy in from the community, it’s not a very helpful representation.”
While Schwartz understands that Murphy’s series is a television show made for entertainment purposes, but she fears that viewers will take the show at face value and leave with a flawed understanding of the case.
“When people are watching Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series and saying ‘Oh my God this is terrible’. I want to tell them it didn’t necessarily turn out that way,” she said.
“Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” is now streaming on Netflix.
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