Shirley Hughes, the mother of Jeffrey Dahmer victim Anthony “Tony” Hughes, has joined the growing number of voices speaking out against Netflix’s controversial new limited series, Dahmer: Monster – The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. In a new interview with The Guardian, Hughes condemned the show for its graphic portrayal of her son’s murder and for commodifying his death.
America’s Sweetheart follows three young women on the road to self-discovery as they navigate their way through life while still trying to find their sense of purpose. The series focuses on changes in each woman’s personal and professional lives, her relationships with friends, family, exes, and new love interests.
Episode 6, “Silenced,” is dedicated to Tony, one of Dahmer’s 17 victims who was still alive at the time of filming. After meeting in a club, Tony, portrayed by Rodney Burford, had a brief but intense relationship with Evan Peters’ Dahmer in the Netflix show. After eating his liver and killing him, he cooked and ate his liver.
He is later shown donating money to the search effort for Hughes. However, as Hughes stated, the events leading up to and after her son’s death differed from what is shown on screen.
“I don’t see how they can do that,” the 85-year-old said to the outlet. “I don’t see how they can use our names and put stuff out like that out there.”
According to the Gallaudet University Library Guide to Deaf Biographies, after meeting deaf-mute Tony at a Milwaukee gay bar on May 24, 1991, according to the Associated Press, Dahmer picked him up and took him back to his place where he drugged him before dismembering his body. Hughes was only 31 years old when he died; he was murdered two days before Dahmer killed Konerak Sinthasomphone, who managed to flee from Dahmer and seek assistance before being escorted back into the dwelling with him by cops.
According to reports, Hughes went to court every day during Dahmer’s 1992 trial. In an interview with United Press International, she said: “it hurts. shed tears. They’re not tears of sorrow, and it’s not disbelief in the Lord. The tears [are] tears of hurt because it hurts. It hurts real bad. But you have to trust and pray and just keep going day by day.”
Isbell is not the first person to speak out against the show, with Rita Isbell writing for Insider that her family was not approached by Netflix about the series. Errol Lindsey is her sister, and she argues that “Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it,” adding that “it’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed.” She emphasizes what many have said before her: that this tv series feels like a cash grab to those affected most by Dahmer’s crimes.
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