Dirty John S1-2
IMDb rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 79%
As a genre, anthology series open up so many avenues for multiple seasons of unrelated yet similar stories. Think American Horror Story, Black Mirror, American Crime Story and Fargo. They may share cast members, themes and sets, but each season can stand alone for your viewing pleasure.
Dirty John is one of these anthology shows. It premiered on Netflix in February, 2019, and told the true story of John Michael Meehan. It was based on a true crime podcast by Christopher Goddard, and starred Eric Bana and Connie Britton (Nashville, 9-1-1), who picked up a respectable number of award nominations for her role as Debra Newell.
Since these are true stories, like Titanic, it doesn’t seem necessary to avoid spoilers, but we will.
In Season 2, which just launched on Netflix, The Betty Broderick Story stars Christian Slater (Mr Robot) and Amanda Peet, who has been in loads of movies and TV series (like The Good Wife) but still flies pretty much under the radar.
Here’s the spoiler dilemma again, but let’s see if we can work around it (if you must know, check out the links and trailer): Betty Broderick was convicted of killing two people and sentenced to 32 years to life. There are many who sympathise with Betty and can understand what drove her to murder; the controversial case grabbed the media’s attention and was extensively covered at the time (1989). Books have been written, and there’s also a 1992 two-part TV movie, on top of this series.
The Sydney Morning Herald praises The Betty Broderick story for its attention to period detail, as well as Peet’s performance: “Did police really carry straitjackets around in the boots of their cars in the ’80s? If so, that’s an interesting piece of period detail. And period detail is something in which this season’s production and wardrobe designers really excel. The clothes, hair, make-up and furniture are exquisitely ’80s, but in an unobtrusive way that doesn’t cram Walkmans and leg warmers and MTV into every scene.
“The series also excels when it comes to filling in the sad back story that brought Betty to her breaking point. And for that, it could hardly have found a better fit than Peet, who never seems to land the roles that would make her a bigger name, but whose performance here is versatile, captivating and achingly vulnerable.”
Where is Betty now? Oprah magazine tells us she is now 72, and was denied parole for the third time in 2017. “To this day she believes in her heart and in her mind that they deserved to die,” the parole official said in 2017, speaking of Betty’s victims.