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The Netflix limited series, releasing Sept. 21, sees the frequent Murphy player of American Horror Story and Pose recognition stepping into his next role as Jeffrey Dahmer, one of America’s most notorious serial killers, and the result is chilling.
Between 1978 and 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer gruesomely took the lives of 17 innocent victims. According to the show’s description, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story exposes these unconscionable crimes, centered around the underserved victims and their communities impacted by the systemic racism and institutional failures of the police that allowed one of America’s most notorious serial killers to continue his murderous spree in plain sight for over a decade.
Murphy and longtime producing partner Ian Brennan co-created the series and executive produce, along with Alexis Martin Woodall, Eric Kovtun, Peters, Janet Mock and Carl Franklin. Rashad Robinson is a consulting producer.
Rounding out the cast are Richard Jenkins and Molly Ringwald, playing Jeffrey’s father, Lionel Dahmer, and stepmother, Shari; Michael Learned as Jeffrey’s grandmother Catherine Dahmer; and Niecy Nash as Jeffrey’s neighbor Glenda Cleveland.
The first trailer, which dropped Friday, focuses on the relationship between Jeffrey and Glenda, as Glenda tries but fails to get the attention of police after witnessing questionable behavior, including bad smells and the sounds of screams and power tools all night, coming from her neighbor and his apartment. The trailer ends on the precipice of a showdown between the neighbors, as Jeffrey quietly but forcefully asks her to eat a sandwich he prepared for her. “You’re just like my mom,” he tells her, “telling on me when I ain’t done nothing wrong.”
“Over the course of 10 powerful episodes, Dahmer shines a spotlight on the as-yet untold stories of Dahmer’s victims, the people who tried to stop him and the systemic failures that enabled him to continue his murderous spree for over a decade. Which is why we needed two trailers to properly showcase the complex story,” read a post from the Ryan Murphy Productions Instagram account.
The second trailer, which dropped Sept. 20, highlighted those systemic failures as rounds of police visits, and a visit to the courtroom, failed to arrest or punish Dahmer. The chilling look at Dahmer’s multiple male victims of color includes Glenda screaming into the phone, “Somebody is being killed!” and saying, “It’s like our people don’t count.” The trailer ends with her noting, “I knew. But nobody heard me.”
In a video from Netflix, Peters describes Dahmer — whose killings involved necrophilia, cannibalism and preserving body parts as mementos — as docile, aloof and someone who “almost disassociated” from what he did. “I was very scared about all of the things he did and diving into that, and trying to commit to that was absolutely going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life,” he says, “because I wanted it to be very authentic, but in order to do that I was going to have to go to really dark places and stay there for an extended period of time.”
He also spoke about being respectful to the victims: “You need to have certain plot points because he did do these things, but you don’t need to embellish them. We get it. We don’t need to see it over and over again.”
Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is the latest series — following Halston, The Politician, Ratched, Hollywood and The Andy Warhol Diaries — for Netflix from prolific creator Murphy, who has a producing deal with the streaming giant. In her report of the most anticipated scripted shows for the year, THR‘s Lesley Goldberg noted that Netflix has high expectations for the series from the Glee and American Crime Story co-creators to be a commercial hit. Murphy and Brennan also have true-crime miniseries The Watcher, starring Naomi Watts, Bobby Cannavale and Jennifer Coolidge, debuting in the fall.
Sept. 20, 11 a.m. This story has been updated to include the second Dahmer – Monster trailer.
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