Fans of Evan Peters are thrilled to watch him star as the titular serial killer in Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. But critics on social media are urging viewers to avoid "romanticizing" the actor in the role and to remember Dahmer's real victims.
The Dahmer limited series, which premieres on Netflix Wednesday, was co-created by filmmaker Ryan Murphy of Glee and American Horror Story fame. Peters appeared in American Horror Story for several seasons and also worked with Murphy in the series Pose.
Dahmer is reported to have murdered at least 17 men in his Milwaukee apartment between 1978 and 1991, and his victims were usually black, Latino or Asian men and boys, according to Biography. A former combat medic, Dahmer was killed in prison in 1994.
Some of the murders committed by Dahmer also involved cannibalism and necrophilia. The serial killer reportedly kept dozens of Polaroids of his victims, which police discovered in 1991 while looking for evidence.
Peters' acting skills and leading-man looks have earned him dedicated fans, but some on social media are more focused on commemorating Dahmer's victims.
Other social media users have also aired frustration with the way that Dahmer's crimes have been covered.
"Every time they do a special/movie on Jeffrey Dahmer I think about how the cops didn't give a f**k about his victims because they were 1) Black and 2) gay," someone else wrote in a Wednesday tweet.
Days before the show's release, another person tweeted that they were sending support and love to the victims' friends and families.
"Jeffrey Dahmer targeted mainly Black & Brown men/boys," they wrote in a now-viral tweet. "His victims came from inner cities, & a lot did sex work too. & Because of this.. Jeffrey Dahmer knew most people wouldn't care."
The creators of Dahmer have been open about their push to honor the victims through sensitive storytelling. Peters spoke about the complexity of embodying the role in a video interview released by Netflix.
"It was so jaw-dropping that it all really happened that it felt important to be respectful to the victims, to the victims' families, to try to tell the story as authentically as we could," he said in a clip posted to YouTube. "And you need to have certain plot points because he did do these things, but you don't need to embellish them."
Actress Niecy Nash, who stars as Dahmer's neighbor, also recently posted a picture of herself in character.
"Over the course of 10 powerful episodes, #DAHMER shines a spotlight on the as-yet untold stories of Dahmer's victims, the people who tried to stop him, and the systemic failures that enabled him to continue his murderous spree for over a decade," she wrote in her Instagram photo's caption.
Newsweek has reached out to Murphy and Peters for comment.