What Netflix's 'Dahmer' Series Actually Gets Right In The First Four Episodes
Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, the new Netflix series from Ryan Murphy, is a troubling portrait of one of the 20th century’s most notorious serial killers. During the course of its first four episodes, it provides the viewer information about Dahmer’s childhood and background, as well as the events leading up to several of his murders.
Though it takes a few liberties with the established facts, it actually gets several things right about Dahmer’s story, as well as those of his victims. The first four episodes are striking for what facts they get right about Dahmer, including various aspects of his notorious apartment.
Dahmer Did Actually Drink Some Blood While Working At The Plasma Center
After getting fired from his job at a deli due to the indecent exposure incident, Dahmer ends up working at a plasma center (due in part to his experiences as a medic in the Army). This, of course, brings him into close contact with bodily fluids. In one of the series’ most viscerally disturbing scenes, he gazes into a mirror as he drinks human blood. It’s a harbinger of the even more unsettling and gruesome things to come in his future as a cannibal and serial killer.
As bizarre as the incident is, it is in fact based on testimony delivered during his trial. In this case, it’s from Dr. Park Dietz, who was one of the witnesses for the prosecution. He related how Dahmer had told him he drank a vial of blood while working at the plasma center, mostly out of a yearning for excitement and out of curiosity. However, in a strange twist, he actually didn’t like the taste and so spit it out.
His Last Attempted Victim Was Actually Tracy Edwards Who Escaped And Brought Police Back To Dahmer's Apartment
Dahmer–Monster actually begins at the end of Dahmer’s killings, when he brings a young African American man named Tracy Edwards back to his apartment. It’s a very tense episode, as the young man realizes just how dangerous this situation has become.
The scene in which Dahmer forces him to watch The Exorcist III while sitting on a bed with a very obvious blood stain on it is truly unsettling, leading the viewer to feel with the intended victim as he contends with the reality of what’s about to happen. Fortunately, Edwards is able to break away from Dahmer and escape, ultimately leading the police back to the killer’s apartment.
Though dramatized, the sequence of events depicted in this first episode is largely true to the facts, particularly as these were related by Edwards himself during his testimony at the time. Dahmer did lure Edwards back to his apartment with a promise of money for posing for photographs. Then, having persuaded the young man to stay - despite the stench pervading the apartment - Dahmer handcuffed him and forced him to watch The Exorcist III.
Edwards was finally able to get free by punching Dahmer and fleeing out the front door. He was then able to flag down passing policemen, who came back with him to Dahmer’s apartment to procure the keys to the handcuffs, at which time they discovered the gruesome evidence of his murderous activities.
He Really Was Pulled Over For Suspected Drunk Driving With A Cut Up Body In Garbage Bags In His Back Seat
In the series, Dahmer’s first murder happens on the spur of the moment. Having invited a handsome hitchhiker back to his home with the promise of a ride to a concert, he tries to get him to stay. The young man, increasingly dismayed (and more than a little disgusted) with this unwanted attention, tries to flee. Dahmer bludgeons him with a dumbbell before strangling him to death. He then dismembers the body and tries to take it away from his home in garbage bags, only to be pulled over by the cops. Though they know he’s drunk, they still send him home, and he proceeds to destroy the body.
This particular incident is in fact largely drawn from the facts. As the New York Times reported, police officers even shone their flashlights at the bags containing the young man’s body parts. However, Dahmer was able to talk himself out of the trouble - convincing the officers he was merely out for a drive and was upset about his parents’ impending divorce - he was sent home without being arrested or facing further questioning.
Dahmer Did Actually Give His Teacher A Jar Of Tadpoles That Was Then Given To A Classmate
The Netflix series makes very clear the extent to which Dahmer was unusual and even a little frightening even as a child. In a rather chilling sequence early in the series, the viewer sees him give his teacher a jar full of living tadpoles. The teacher, more than a little flummoxed by this unusual gift - the rest of the students give her apples - ultimately gives the little creatures to one of Dahmer’s classmates, much to his chagrin. He later goes to the boy’s house to retrieve them.
It’s a strange and unsettling moment in the history and development of the character, made all the more so by the fact of it’s being based in reality. Dahmer did gift his teacher a group of tadpoles, and she did end up giving them to another boy (a friend of Dahmer’s named Lee).
Dahmer, enraged at what he saw as betrayal, ultimately killed them by pouring motor oil over them.
His Dad Really Did Help Him Taxidermy Roadkill
Dahmer–Monster makes it clear just how disturbed the man was, even during his childhood. The second episode in particular dwells on the young Dahmer’s obsession with dead animals. The motivating event for this seems to be the discovery of a dead opossum, but it’s not long before his father, wishing to connect with his son in some meaningful way, begins to help his son taxidermy the various creatures they find on the road. It’s a strange and unsettling series of scenes, as the man and the boy bond over this activity.
Carl Wahlstrom, a forensic psychiatrist who interviewed Dahmer, revealed some of the more macabre true details behind this incident. The two would often bleach the hair and skin from the bodies of rodents which were found under the house. Though the series doesn’t include this particular detail, the family would often refer to the resultant bucket of bones as Dahmer’s “fiddlesticks.”
He Really Was Banned From A Bath House For Repeatedly Drugging His Male Visitors
In the first few episodes of the series, Dahmer slowly starts to enter the gay world of Milwaukee. In particular, he frequents the bathhouses, where he at last gets to experience some of the male intimacy he has always craved. Very quickly, however, this takes on a sinister dimension when he begins drugging the men he takes there. It all comes to a head when he is banned from one particular establishment, after his drugging nearly kills a young man.
Bradley Babush, who ran one of the bathhouses in Milwaukee at the time, spoke about how several of his customers complained about Dahmer’s activities. He would, indeed, get his victims drunk and then drug them.
In one case, the one dramatized in the series, the paramedics had to be called. The young man in question had to spend over a week in the hospital. Though the police were called in this instance, no one wanted to press charges.