“By celebrating and rewarding these portrayals, there is a risk of normalizing the actions of individuals like Dahmer, potentially desensitizing audiences to the real-life consequences of violence,” Jacobson said in a statement to TheWrap.
The 10-episode series, which debuted in September, followed Dahmer’s crimes as he killed and dismembered at least 17 men and boys in Wisconsin and other Midwestern states between 1978 and 1991. Viewers spent 1 billion hours watching the show in its first 60 days of streaming, according to Netflix.
The Washington Post was unable to reach Jacobson on Monday night. Spokespeople for Netflix and series creator Ryan Murphy did not respond to requests for comment.
On Wednesday, multiple actors from the show were nominated for Emmys. Richard Jenkins, who played Dahmer’s father, was nominated for best supporting actor in a limited or anthology series. Niecy Nash-Betts was nominated for best supporting actress in a limited or anthology series for playing Dahmer’s neighbor.
Evan Peters, who played Dahmer, was nominated for best actor in a limited or anthology series. He won a Golden Globe in January for best actor in a limited series or TV movie for the role.
Overall, the show was nominated for the Emmys’ outstanding limited or anthology series.
In his statement last week, Jacobson said the show’s praise might harm victims’ families. Jacobson represented eight of those families after Dahmer was sentenced to 15 life terms in February 1992.
“It is essential to question whether awarding shows like the Dahmer series aligns with the broader goal of fostering a more peaceful and compassionate society,” Jacobson said.
Murphy, the show’s creator, told the Hollywood Reporter in October that showrunners contacted about 20 of the victims’ family members and friends but didn’t receive responses.
Still, some of the victims’ families have condemned the series. Shirley Hughes, whose son, Tony Hughes, was drugged and killed by Dahmer in May 1991, told the Guardian in October that the show misrepresented her son’s death. Tatiana Banks, the daughter of Errol Lindsey, whom Dahmer killed in April 1991, told Insider in October that the show triggered nightmares.
Jacobson empathizes with them.
“By capitalizing on the suffering and pain of others, this show prioritized profit and entertainment value over the emotional well-being and privacy of the victim’s loved ones,” Jacobson said in his statement.
The Netflix series is one of several true-crime stories to face criticism. In 2021, Brooke Preston’s family members tried to prevent Hulu from releasing “Dead Asleep,” a documentary about Preston being stabbed to death. Mariah Day, whose mother Betsy Faria was stabbed in 2011, said on TikTok last year that a miniseries about Faria’s death, “The Thing About Pam,” profited off her mother’s killing.
Netflix announced in May that it will continue the “Monster” anthology with a season on brothers Erik and Lyle Menendez, who shot and killed their parents in 1989 in their California mansion.
Jacobson said in his statement that he wants Netflix to take a different approach from the Dahmer series for future stories.
“Collaboration with victim families, compensation, providing a platform to share their experiences and perspectives, and prior notice are a few suggestions,” Jacobson said.