The Menendez Brothers are getting the Ryan Murphy treatment with the announcement of Netflix’s Monster season 2, titled Monsters: The Lyle and Erik Menendez Story.
Lyle and Erik Menendez took the world by storm in the early 90s when they murdered their parents, José and Mary Louise “Kitty” Menendez. They said it was in response to alleged sexual, physical, and emotional abuse that had occurred since they were children. The trial for these crimes captivated viewers and is still contested to this day by those who believe they didn’t do it or were justified in their crimes.
These murders also had the added narrative that the brothers were of Cuban descent on their father’s side. And their father was seen as a success on the outside thanks to his career as a businessman and the fact that he had a home in Beverly Hills with their mother being a socialite, beauty queen, and former teacher. When news of the murder of the parents happened, it dealt a blow to the Latine community that helped perpetuate a history of stereotypes, including the perception that immigrants are criminals.
It got to the point where Lyle and Erik were constantly mentioned in the news, which meant they were some of the most prominent representations of Latines in the media at the time. Saturday Night Live even did a sketch about the Menendez trial. In addition, the media storm around the brothers quickly turned their trial into reality TV that focused on the gory details with nightly news updates.
Now Ryan Murphy is bringing the story of the Menendez Brothers back to our cultural lexicon with them being the focus of the second season of Netflix’s Monster.
This once again opens the door to another wave of stereotypes that include Latine migrants and immigrants being looked at as criminals. As if we didn’t get enough of that when former President Trump said that Mexicans are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” into the United States during his campaign run.
Murphy is no stranger to creating binge-able TV series that get the public’s attention. Season 1 of Monster spurred debate and backlash because of how the show retraumatized the families of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims and the LGBTQ+ community. Be that as it may, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story was successful enough that it prompted Netflix to give Murphy two more seasons.
As to what this will mean for Latine representation, considering the continued cancellation of shows that tell nuanced stories about our communities, only the finished product of Monsters: The Lyle and Erik Menendez Story will lead us to that answer.