Review of 'Dirty John Season 2: Betty'
Truth Stranger than Fiction but Not Quite as Compelling
My wife and I just finished binging Dirty John Season 2: Betty on the USA Network. It was a powerful season, brilliantly acted by Amanda Peet in the title role, but not as good as the first season.
The first season told the story of John Meehan (hence Dirty John), who actually was a character far more familiar to television drama than Betty Broderick. John is a sweet-talking con-man killer, who ensnares Debra, superbly played by Connie Britton, who has delivered masterful performances in at least two other television series, Friday Night Lights and Nashville. Britton on the screen, as well as Eric Bana as John, as well as the mounting, almost excruciating tension of whether Debra will realize what John is, and escape with her life, was an irresistible combination.
The acting was equally strong in the second season. I already mentioned Peet as Betty, and Christian Slater was equally effective as her husband Dan. But the story of Betty, a woman so devoted to Dan that, when he leaves her to be with and eventually marry Linda, Betty eventually kills them, is bizarre more than frightening, a study of a woman scorned becoming a woman insane, to the point of acting against her own self-interests, since by killing Dan and Linda, she loses any chance to be with her four kids whom she very much loves.
I know that this a true story, with the typical docudrama proviso that a few characters and scenes have been changed. And they say the truth can be stranger than fiction, which is true enough. But that doesn't mean such stranger truth can make for as gripping a story as an outright fiction, or, in this case of the second season of Dirty John, as gripping a story as the stranger truth of the first season.
But the second season was enjoyable and nonetheless worth viewing, if only for the sterling performances of the leads, especially Amanda Peet.