“It’s something that we researched for a very long time,” the Glee showrunner, 56, said at a Dahmer event in Los Angeles on Thursday, October 27, per The Hollywood Reporter. “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 20 — 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.”
He added: “So we relied very, very heavily on our incredible group of researchers who … I don’t even know how they found a lot of this stuff. But it was just, like, a night and day effort to us trying to uncover the truth of these people.”
Dahmer premiered on Netflix in September, chronicling serial killer Jeffery Dahmer’s gruesome crimes from 1978 to 1991, when he murdered 17 men. Evan Peters, Niecy Nash, Molly Ringwald and Richard Jenkins star in the limited series.
Despite the series’ intent to expose Dahmer’s actions, viewers critiqued the show for primarily highlighting his life and how they framed the victims’ perspectives. Several family members of Dahmer’s victims also argued that the Netflix program dramatized the truth.
“It didn’t happen like that. I don’t see how they can do that,” Shirley Hughes — the mother of Tony Hughes, who was killed by Dahmer in 1991 — told The Guardian earlier this month. “I don’t see how they can use our names and put stuff out like that out there.”
Eric Perry, one of the cousins of victim Errol Lindsey, shared his thoughts about the production via Twitter.
“They don’t notify families when they do this. It’s all public record, so they don’t have to notify (or pay!) anyone,” he claimed on September 22. “My family found out when everyone else did. “So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the victims’ or ‘honoring the dignity of the families,’ no one contacts them. My cousins wake up every few months at this point with a bunch of calls and messages and they know there’s another Dahmer show. It’s cruel.”
Meanwhile, the Scream Queens producer and director Paris Barclay maintain that the drama was made with respect for those affected by the crimes.
“We really want it to be about celebrating these victims,” Barclay said on Thursday. “When Tony writes ‘I won’t disappear’ on that last card, that’s what this show is about. It’s about making sure these people are not erased by history and that they have a place and that they’re recognized and that they were important and that they lived full lives. And they came from all sorts of different places, but they were real people.”
He continued: “They weren’t just numbers. They weren’t just pictures on billboards and telephone poles. They were real people with loving families, breathing, living, hoping. That’s what we wanted it to be about.”