Netflix’s Jeffrey Dahmer Series Is More Crass Exploitation

Netflix’s Jeffrey Dahmer Series Is More Crass Exploitation

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment editor Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.

This week:

No More Hot Serial Killers! I’ve Had Enough!

I am pleading from the depths of my soul, with the intensity and the urgency—if not maybe the volume—of Nancy Pelosi’s emails from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which I don’t know how I ended up signed up for and won’t cease no matter how many times I try to unsubscribe. I am that passionate about this: Please, Hollywood, stop making TV shows and movies that make me want to bang serial killers.

One has to believe this is avoidable. Sure, Hollywood actors are hot. Damn them! But maybe we don’t necessarily need to cast the hottest among them as the most devilish among us. Or—here’s an idea!—maybe we don’t need to keep making projects that frame these men as eerily tortured instead of purely craven, so that we as an audience aren’t left thinking, “Oh, honey, I can fix you. Just come over here and take your shirt off…”

Perhaps there doesn’t need to be all those lingering shots on their perfect bodies. Maybe we don’t need a slew of scenes that could have at one point been just a placeholder in the screenplay that read, “This is where a hunky Hollywood It Boy will try to win his Emmy Award.” I don’t know; I’m just spitballing.

When they made that Ted Bundy movie with Zac Efron, I didn’t not moan to myself when he was strip-searched in prison. Saying “I would let Darren Criss do unspeakable things to me” takes on an entirely different meaning when he’s playing Andrew Cunanan, a man who murdered Gianni Versace and four other people.

Now, there is Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered and tortured 17 men over the course of 30 years—and, as filmed in Netflix’s new Ryan Murphy production, looks like an absolute snack.

Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story premiered earlier this week. I can’t believe a TV title that’s this nonsensical and irritating stuck, almost as much I can’t believe we’re doing this all over again. The series is another overlong recontextualization of a demonic serial killer, one that masks its crass titillation in a goal to supposedly reclaim the stories for the victims. Those victims, however, are instead grossly exploited and retraumatized again. (Case in point: a relative of one of Dahmer’s victims tweeting his displeasure this week that the series exists.)

That’s especially disturbing when it comes to Dahmer, who would lure gay men—overwhelmingly men of color—back to his apartment, where he would engage in cannibalism and necrophilia in addition to sexual acts and murder.

I haven’t arrived at a better way to say this than how Daniel Fienberg does in his The Hollywood Reporter review, so here’s his take: “This developing of tension through ‘Is he going to eat this victim?’ or ‘Is he going to have sex with this victim?’ makes ghouls of the audience, an indictment of gawking viewership I might find more convincing if it weren’t coming from the creative team behind umpteen seasons of American Horror Story and the network behind leering longform documentaries about every serial killer imaginable.”

Naturally, this is already the number one series on Netflix.

Perfect Man Lands Perfect Role

It remains outrageous that Jonathan Bailey still is not my husband.

That the star of Bridgerton, who is currently filming a gay period romance with fellow perfect-looking human Matt Bomer, doesn’t realize that we, despite never meeting, have an electric and indisputable sexual connection is quite upsetting. Nonetheless, I continue to root for him. As such, I could not be prouder of my lover for getting cast this week as Fiyero in the Wicked movies, opposite Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo.

When I was 17, my best friend was driving us home from theater rehearsal for our high school’s production of Guys and Dolls. We were so distracted by belting along to Wicked karaoke tracks that we didn’t notice she was speeding until we got pulled over by a cop—a humbling moment, to say the least. I would like to tell teenage Kevin that one day, he’d be writing an ode to his (fictional) husband’s casting in the movie version of the show.

And if anyone doubts that he’ll be spectacular in the role, first of all, rude; second of all, here is a clip of him auditioning for a U.K. production of The Last Five Years. Warning: Mr. Jonathan Bailey-Fallon is so attractive in this video that it borders on pornagraphic.

The Golden Globes Are Back. Yay?

Major showbiz news this week is that the Golden Globes is returning to NBC, following several years of controversy surrounding the organization’s lack of diversity, allegations of inappropriate behavior by several members, and reports of bribery and corruption.

Yes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has made strides to reform and diversify its membership, though the question remains whether the efforts are satisfactory—or if the group even deserves to make a comeback.

This “welcoming” back from NBC seems half-hearted, to say the least: The 2023 ceremony will air on a Tuesday, famously the sexiest of all nights in Hollywood. I can’t imagine who shows up for this, given the extent of the past controversy. As for landing a host? What celebrity in their right mind would agree to that? And what publicist would let them?

So I guess we can all look forward to journalists in an empty room announcing awards on NBC on Tuesday night in January. Sounds glamorous as hell.

The Holy Trilogy We All Deserve

The most important news of the week: Whoopi Goldberg is still trying to get Sister Act 3 made, and she’s going to ensure that co-star Jenifer Lewis is a part of it, too. “You know we’re still going to do that movie,” Goldberg said during an interview with Lewis on The View. “And I’d do everything I can to work with her because she’s fun.” Praise be.

What to watch this week:

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City: We are but days away from television’s greatest series returning. (Wed. on Bravo)

Ghosts: This series was such an unexpected delight last season. (Thurs. on CBS)

Sidney: As moving a portrait of Sidney Poitier’s life and career as he deserves. (Now on Apple TV+)

What to skip this week:

Don’t Worry Darling: The movie is as much a disaster as its press tour. (Now in theaters)

Blonde: Everyone’s opinion on this is extreme and completely different. Exhausting! (Now in theaters; Wed. on Netflix)

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Last Update: Fri, 23 Sep 22 22:25:06