Paris Barclay admits she was initially reluctant to direct episodes of Ryan Murphy’s “Dahmer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.”
“About six months into production, Ryan called me and said, ‘We’re making a series and we want you to be a part of it. “I always listen to Ryan Murphy because he’s always entertaining. Ryan said, ‘It’s a miniseries about Jeffrey Dahmer,’ and I said, ‘Oh, that doesn’t interest me.’ But he explained that he wanted to speak from the point of view of the victims.
Barkley directed two of the 10-episode Netflix series, including one centered on Tony Hughes, a deaf and mute black man (played by newcomer Rodney Burford) killed by Dahmer (played by Evan Peters) in 1991. Shortly after the series premiered, Hughes’ mother and family members of other victims publicly denounced the show for not only reliving them, but accused Netflix and its producers of exploiting the story for profit.
“Of course, I have no opinion about this other than I wish the world would exist [Hughes’ mother] “I can experience it without pain, but I can’t imagine being able to see without pain,” says Barclay.
“We tried to lift him up and hug Tony. We tried to vote him out. We tried to make it as relevant as possible to the audience. And that seems to have happened,” Barclay continued. “I’m proud of what we’ve done not only for Tony, but for the deaf community. That’s been my mantra. We want to make sure these victims don’t disappear.
On October 20, the series premiered in Nielsen’s weekly broadcast rankings with 3.7 billion minutes watched from September 19–25, making it the No. 1 program in the viewing window and the 10th most-watched program in the same period. Week recorded by Nielsen.
Most recently, Murphy said he received a survey of 20 victims’ families for “Dahmer,” but told his team that “not one person responded.” Murphy said that Peters had been in character as Dahmer for “months”.
Due to the serious and brutal details of the story, Netflix has issued an advisory to the cast and crew.
“Some of the scenes we covered were very embarrassing. When you replace them, you don’t just look at them for a couple of minutes, says Barkley. “You’re living in them all day and repeating them. It definitely took its toll on you. There were times when I was crying at home thinking about the emotional experiences the actors went through and what the real people went through.
“We took our time,” he added. We don’t rush anything. Evan Peters was very powerful as Jeffrey Dahmer. He was very much in character on stage so we were very careful. We have protected the cast and crew as much as we can.