Netflix has announced that its Monster series will return for two more seasons delving into the lives and crimes of more infamous serial killers.
The first instalment, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, premiered on Sept. 21 and focused on the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed 17 predominantly Black men and boys between 1978 and 1991.
Led by Evan Peters and created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, the 10-episode series proved to be a major success for Netflix, currently sitting as the streamer’s second most viewed English TV show after Stranger Things.
However, despite the creators’ intentions of “exposing” Dahmer’s “unconscionable crimes” and illuminating how his victims were failed by “the systemic racism and institutional failures of the police,” the show’s huge viewership didn’t come without an equal helping of controversy.
One of the main criticisms was that some felt the series exploited Dahmer’s crimes for profit while forcing his victims’ relatives to relive their trauma. The mother of Tony Hughes, who was among those killed by Dahmer, even spoke out to question how the show was greenlit.
Murphy pushed back against the backlash, namely widespread accusations that Dahmer’s crimes had been glamorized by the production, saying during an interview with the New York Times last month that he made the show because the story “examines how easy it is to get away with things with the white privilege aspects.”
The writer responded to criticism for a second time soon after, adding during an appearance at Los Angeles’s DGA Theater that he reached out to “around 20 of the victims’ families and friends” in the three and a half years spent researching for the show.
“It’s something that we researched for a very long time,” Murphy said. “And not a single person responded to us in that process. So we relied very, very heavily on our incredible group of researchers who… I don’t even know how they found a lot of this stuff.”
Numerous family members had previously contradicted this claim, including Errol Lindsey’s cousin, Eric Perry, who tweeted that his family found out about the show “when everyone else did.”
Lindsey’s sister, Rita Isbell, also told Insider that she was “never contacted” about Murphy’s plans, despite her victim impact statement at Dahmer’s sentencing in 1992 being recreated for the series.
And now, in spite of the growing backlash against Dahmer and the wider “true crime industrial complex” that fuels the public demand for shows of this nature, Netflix are doubling down on their move, announcing this week that Monster has been renewed to become its own anthology series.
In a tweet on Monday, the streaming service said that subscribers can expect two more seasons of Monster, focusing on “other monstrous figures who have impacted society.”
The announcement quickly sparked heated reactions across social media, with many viewers coming to Twitter to condemn the “commercialisation of murderers” in the name of entertainment.
Among the backlash, critics have been questioning Netflix’s apparent move to “assemble a cinematic universe” of “monstrous figures” with the extension of the Monster series, with one person saying the decision has pushed back society “years.”
“So glad that for years we’ve wrestled with the ethical consequences of true crime fanaticism and finally we’ve landed on a solution: ‘serial killer extended universe,’” tweeted someone else, garnering more than 30,000 likes.
In agreement, another user accused Netflix of “franchising a bunch of psychotic, misogynistic serial killers like they’re the fucking avengers.”
Of course, given the amount of people who tuned into Dahmer, it’s hardly a surprise to hear that Netflix will continue to fund the series, prompting some to accuse the company of using people’s trauma to “peddle” subscriptions.
This sparked a wider conversation about the fascination with true crime, with one user tweeting: “when you mix america’s fetish for heinous crime storytelling, a desensitized audience, and late stage capitalism this is what you get. it’s repulsive”
Others agreed with this sentiment, saying that in conjunction with the renewal of the show, viewers’ desires for often exploitative true crime content is the bigger issue at hand.
“I’m not a true crime fan but it’s funny how people are mad at Netflix and not the hundreds of millions of people who watched lol,” someone said, suggesting that the backlash is being misdirected.
“ppl blaming hate watching but dahmer wasn’t successful bc of hate watch,” agreed another. “avg ppl genuinely tuned into this bc the mythos of serial killers is alluring to one’s mundane life. That’s why true crime is so successful. these are characters to them not real awful human beings w victims.”
This prompted others to suggest that Netflix could instead produce shows that center around fictional crimes, as opposed to the “making money off the trauma of real people who are literally still alive today.”
“Netflix is so wrong for that…,” wrote someone else. “Y’all can be making new series with good and positive themes but they decide to profit out of tragedies and sadness.”
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Netflix for comment.
Your weekday morning guide to breaking news, cultural analysis, and everything in between