On the heels of delving into the origin of a famous cinematic villain with the divisive Ratched, Ryan Murphy is setting his sights on one of the most horrific real-life villains, Jeffrey Dahmer, for his next Netflix project. Murphy will be teaming up with Ian Brennan to develop Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, a limited series about the notorious American serial killer who, in 1992, was convicted of 15 murders and sentenced to life in prison after a 13 year killing spree.
Deadline broke the news that Murphy is developing a Jeffrey Dahmer limited series, Monster, for his next Netflix project, teaming up with his longtime collaborator Ian Brennan, with whom Murphy co-created Hollywood, The Politician and Fox’s Glee and Scream Queens (all with Brad Falchuk).
Here is the logline for Monster, which spans a four-decade period from the 1960s to Dahmer’s arrest in the early ’90s, per Deadline:
Monster chronicles the story of one of America’s most notorious serial killers, largely told from the point of view of Dahmer’s victims, and dives deeply into the police incompetence and apathy that allowed the Wisconsin native to go on a multiyear killing spree. The series dramatizes at least 10 instances where Dahmer was almost apprehended but ultimately let go. The series also is expected to touch on white privilege, as Dahmer, a clean-cut, good-looking white guy, was repeatedly given a free pass by cops as well as by judges who were lenient when he had been charged with petty crimes.
Richard Jenkins is set to co-star as Dahmer’s father Lionel. The role of Dahmer has not yet been cast, with Murphy and his producers currently on an nationwide search to find an actor for the part. Producers are also meeting with actresses for the lead female role of Glenda Cleveland, a neighbor of Dahmer’s who fruitlessly tried to warn law enforcement of his strange behavior, and who was involved in one of the most disturbing cases related to Dahmer: the murder of Konerak Sinthasomphone, a 14-year-old Laotian boy who managed to flee Dahmer’s apartment before being returned to the serial killer by Milwaukee police officers, who ignored Cleveland’s concerned pleas and Sinthasomphone’s injuries. Sinthasomphone was later murdered and dismembered.
Carl Franklin (Mindhunter, The Leftovers) has been tapped as director for the pilot episode and Janet Mock (Pose, Hollywood) set to write and direct several episodes of the 10-episode limited series. Both Franklin and Mock executive produce with Murphy and Brennan. Rashad Johnson of Color of Change, a racial justice project, also will serve as supervising producer. Also executive producing are Ryan Murphy Prods.’ Alexis Martin Woodall and Eric Kovtun (Ratched, Halston, Hollywood). Scott Robertson (Halston) is a co-producer.
The series follows in the footsteps of Murphy’s divisive but successful Netflix titles, Ratched, Hollywood, and The Politician, all of which have received criticism for the same kind of lurid camp that Murphy is famous for in his hit series like American Horror Story and Glee. It doesn’t bode well for Monster, which would require a sensitive hand to portray the story of Dahmer without giving into the ghoulish voyeurism that surrounds the victims of the serial killer, who infamously engaged in acts of necrophilia and cannibalism. But Murphy has been successful at treating historical events with nuance in his American Crime Story series, which he has a significantly lighter hand in, with The Assassination of Gianni Versace treading similar themes of systemic homophobia and the failures of the police in America.
There have been other scripted treatments on Dahmer, including a 2002 film starring a young Jeremy Renner, but Monster will reportedly be “psychological and focuses on how the murders were allowed to happen over more than a decade.” The descriptions do suggest that Murphy will take an even hand with Monster and not give into the same garish flourishes that his weaker projects have displayed.
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