My Friend Dahmer Has Nothing to Do With Netflix’s Dahmer Series
Today, I remind people that there is no connection between Netflix’s controversial new Dahmer series and the excellent graphic novel/film, My Friend Dahmer.
This is “Just a Reminder,” a feature where I just point out some stuff, typically in relation to a recent controversy in the world of pop culture.
Currently, Netflix is drawing both high ratings and controversy for its Ryan Murphy-produced series, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, telling the life of the cannibalistic serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, with Evan Roberts memorably playing Dahmer (whatever else you think about the project, Roberts is certainly giving it his all)…
Time Magazine did a nice encapsulation of the controversy about the series:
Monster has become one of the streamer’s most-watched series since debuting on Sept. 23 and criticism over the show has grown as quickly as its popularity. Critics have questioned the need to revisit the story of a serial killer who targeted young men who were primarily Black and brown. Much of the discussion has focused on the way in which systemic racism allowed Dahmer to continue killing men. Some family members of the victims of Dahmer have also spoken out against the series, saying it has retraumatized them. The series also came under fire after Netflix tagged it as “LGBTQ” content (as drama over this choice arose on TikTok, Netflix quickly removed the label).
Something that I’ve noticed, though, is that the controversy has seemed to draw in an earlier work about Dahmer, the 2017 film, My Friend Dahmer, with Ross Lynch playing Dahmer, who sure looks like Peters’ take on Dahmer…
That movie was based on the 2012 graphic novel, My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf.
The talented comic book writer/artist Backderf was a casual acquaintance of Jeffrey Dahmer during high school, and in this book, he juxtaposes that friendship against what Backderf later learned was going on in Dahmer’s life. It’s a captivating tale that shows a rare point of view of someone like Dahmer, who committed his first murder two weeks after his high school graduation (which is the period in which Backderf was friends with him).
This was a personal story to Backderf, so almost all of the criticisms of Monster were not applicable to My Friend Dahmer, but for some reason, the visual similiarities has still led to people to think that there is a connection between the two projects, leading Backderf to have to go to Twitter to explain:
OK look. I'm getting flak for this Netflix series.
I didn't write it, it's not based on my book, I wasn't a consultant, I never communicated with anyone on the film.
I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.
— Derf Backderf (@DerfBackderf) October 5, 2022
OK look. I’m getting flak for this Netflix series. I didn’t write it, it’s not based on my book, I wasn’t a consultant, I never communicated with anyone on the film. I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. You might as well blame me for the Star Wars Holiday Special. I had as much to do with that as with the Netflix Dahmer thing.
So, hey, you want to criticize Monster, go right ahead, just don’t bring My Friend Dahmer into it!