The First Two Episodes of Dirty John

Connie Britton in Dirty John

Dirty John gives me the creepy crawlies. It is so uncomfortable to watch. I watched the first two episodes based on loyalty to Connie Britton, but the prospect of watching all 8 of the episodes in the first season of this tale doesn’t make me squirm with anticipation. More like squirm with dread.

It does have some of my favorite women actors. There is that.

Jean Smart, Connie Britton, Juno Temple, and Julia Garner in Dirty John
Lovely cast photo – thank you, Bravo!

Here’s the basic story, which is based on truth. Debra Newell (Connie Britton) is a successful business woman with an interior design fortune. She has two daughters: Veronica (Juno Temple) and Terra (Julia Garner). Her mother Arlane Hart (Jean Smart) is still around.

Debra has been married 4 times, but continues looking for that perfect man. She tries online dating. Finally she meets a man whose profile looks promising. He’s a doctor, just back from a stint with Doctors without Borders. He’s handsome.

Eric Bana and Connie Britton in Dirty John
Love is blind, indeed

When John Meehan (Eric Bana) shows up on Debra’s doorstep for a first date, Veronica answers the door. She’s immediately put off by him. Debra, however, enjoys the first date. He seems to check all the right boxes. He’s charming, attentive, funny.

In every aspect of her life, Debra is all sweetness and light. Debra responds in very feminine, coquettish ways to John’s attentions. They end of back at her apartment. When she stops to take a breath and makes it clear she doesn’t want him in her bed just then, he storms out.

Even after a glorious first date, the temper John exhibited when he didn’t get what he wanted should have been enough to put Debra off. But it wasn’t.

John is gifted as a liar and cheat, but his veneer cracks in odd ways. He says inappropriate things. He flashes rudeness or cruelty, then lies to explain it away.

Debra seems to be a woman from a different era. She’s like her mother, who thinks a doctor like John is perfect. She is less like her daughters, with their modern sensibilities. The two younger women both sense John’s evil intent. In episode two, Debra’s nephew Trey (Jake Abel) also warns her about him.

Debra brushes off their concerns in her ultra sweet way, making excuses for John and laying the onus on her girls instead of on him.

I desperately wanted Debra to run from this man as fast as she could. Yet two months into their relationship, they married in Las Vegas. But, cross your fingers, Debra finally starts to get suspicious. She sees some of his papers that paint him as a thief, abuser, and drifter.

Thank goodness, a ray of hope for Debra. Maybe I will stick around for the rest of the season to see if she gets out of this mess. Is it safe to assume that since her story is now a television series, the woman breaks free in the end?

Credit to the cast for fantastic performances in these first two episodes. The daughters use annoying Valley Girl voices and seem spoiled beyond all levels of entitlement. Jean Smart is an odd anachronism, like a grandmother out of Leave it to Beaver. Eric Bana is lovable one minute and sinister the next. Connie Britton is nothing like anyone you’ve ever seen her play before – cloying and perfectly proper.

Christopher Goffard originally broke the story about John Meehan in a series of podcasts. The TV series on Bravo was created by Alexandra Cunningham. If you missed the first episodes, you can catch up on demand.

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