Ryan Murphy Defends Netflix Using the LGBTQ Category Tag on DAHMER

After many viewers took issue with Netflix's DAHMER being listed under the streamer's LGBTQ tag, creator Ryan Murphy explained why it happened—and why he stands by it.

By Daniel Trainor Dec 12, 2022 10:41 PMTags
Watch: Ryan Murphy FIRES BACK at Dahmer Series Backlash

Ryan Murphy has heard all of the criticism. 

The creator of DAHMER - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story—which was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards on Dec. 12—understands that many viewers and members of the queer community were disappointed with the series being listed under Netflix's LGBTQ category tag upon its debut in September.

In response, the streamer removed the tag—which is usually saved for more uplifting content like Netflix Originals Heartstopper and Sex Education—just two days after the series, starring Evan Peters as the notorious serial killer, was released.

While Murphy recognizes where the anger came from, he's not quite willing to compromise—and he points to DAHMER's subject matter as his rationale.

"It's about homophobia," he told Variety Dec. 12. "I have a saying, 'My job as an artist is to hold up a mirror about what happened.' It's ugly. It's not pretty. Do you want to look at it? If you do, watch it. If you don't, look away, and sometimes, some of this outrage is directed at the frame of the mirror instead of the reflection."

Murphy continued, "I try and say, 'I really understand why you're upset about the inclusion of that. I understand it, but I also disagree with it personally.'"

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He also acknowledged that his own participation in the project was a major catalyst for the series' labeling.

"I think that it got the tag, one, because of my involvement" he said. "I'm a gay man, so most of my stories deal with some sort of LGBTQ thing and I do that selfishly; when I was growing up, I had nothing [to look to]. My mission statement has been to talk about those stories and those characters and unearth buried history."

The backlash surrounding the category tag isn't the only controversy that DAHMER has been at the center of—and not the first time Murphy has come to the show's defense. 

Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

After the series was released in September, the families of some of Jeffrey Dahmer's victims spoke out against the show. 

Shirley Hughes, whose son Tony Hughes was murdered by Dahmer in May 1991 insisted she wasn't contacted about asked about participating, saying, "I don't see how they can do that. "I don't see how they can use our names and put stuff out like that out there."

In addition, Rita Isbell, whose 19-year-old brother Errol Lindsey was murdered by Dahmer in April 1991, called the Netflix series "harsh and careless" and also said she was never asked about the series or informed it would depict her testimony at his 1992 sentencing.

Murphy, however, contended that their claims just weren't true.

"It's something that we researched for a very long time," Murphy said at a panel promoting the show on Oct. 27. "And we—over the course of the three, three and a half years when we were really writing it, working on it—we reached out to around 20 of the victims' families and friends trying to get input, trying to talk to people and not a single person responded to us in that process."

DAHMER - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is available to stream on Netflix.

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