'Dirty John' Has No Idea What Kind Of Show It Is
The first season of Bravo’s true-crime drama Dirty John detailed the twisty story of a career conman, the titular “Dirty John,” as he wormed his way into a family’s life, only to be ultimately undone – and literally stabbed in the eye – by the daughter of the woman he was conning.
Meanwhile, the second season of Dirty John, now on the USA Network and still titled Dirty John, has absolutely nothing to do with that story – like, at all.
Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story is set in another time period entirely – two, actually – and details the much more straightforward story of a woman, Betty Broderick, driven to double homicide by her asshole of a husband. Flashing between the ‘60s and the ‘80s, this season is about custody battles and the dissolution of a seemingly perfect marriage. And, I guess, a philosophical argument about whether gun violence is ever okay.
There’s not a single conman to be found this season – depending on your view of scuzzy lawyers, anyway. The murders, too, are given away upfront, with Betty’s post-killing trial used as a framing device. So there’s not even the same sense of suspense.
Despite not actually ever being sold as such, the producers of Dirty John at some point decided that this singular show, named after a podcast that detailed one very specific true-crime incident, was, in fact, an anthology series. And, to be fair, according to the internet, Dirty John had always been imagined as two seasons. So, uh ... why not call it something more general? Why pin it forever to this one incident?
What exactly is Dirty John about? Generalized true crime is, arguably too broad a theme, and rich people in California doesn’t whittle it down much. So, is this anthology about contentious marriages that end in murder then? Because, specifically, of philandering men? I mean, it’s a stretch, but that’s really all that ties season one and two together. Right?
The creator, Alexandra Cunningham, has recently said that a proposed third season would delve into the true-crime murkiness of ... mother/child relationships. Because apparently, the real villain of Dirty John is literally the broadest definition of love possible.
Eirik Gumeny is the author of the Exponential Apocalypse series, a five-book saga of slacker superheroes, fart jokes, and assorted B-movie monsters, and he recently added werewolves and assassins to The Great Gatsby. He’s also on Twitter a bunch.
Top Image: Universal Television