Red Flags & Parades
Remember It Was Me
Lord High Executioner
This Young Woman Fought Like Hell
Based on a hit podcast, Dirty John is a true-crime dramatization of one man’s web of deceit and lies. Despite some melodramatic plotting and an incessant need to over-dramatize a lot of scenes, Dirty John is surprisingly engrossing and the 8 episode length is just about long enough to avoid this outstaying its welcome. With an inspired Eric Bana and Connie Britton in the driving seat, Dirty John is a fast-moving drama, one that embraces its flaws to deliver a binge-worthy show.
The story does take a while before it really settles into a groove but ultimately revolves around seemingly perfect mother Debra. When she falls in love with a handsome Doctor called John, the two quickly rush through their whirlwind romance and 8 weeks later, find themselves married, much to the disdain of her two daughters, Veronica and Tara. As lies are revealed and John’s true face is revealed, what follows is a psychologically driven thriller depicting one man’s manipulative hold over a woman whose life comes crashing down.
If I’m honest, the first couple of episodes are a little rough around the edges. Given the overly dramatic depiction of events and the questionable depiction of the two ditsy daughters, Dirty John takes a while to get going. As the flashbacks begin to take hold around the third and fourth episode, the drama makes way for more thriller elements to enter the fray and it’s here where the series takes on a life of its own, becoming much more engaging and interesting in the process.
Very early on you’ll find yourself questioning just why Debra is so naive and why John is so interested in her to the point that it almost makes you want to turn the show off. If you can stick it out though, the middle portion of episodes do a good job diving into both characters’ pasts and explaining their personas and motives before rumbling forward to the climactic finale. It’s a nice touch but also something that requires giving these first few episodes the benefit of the doubt.
Some of the composition is quite good throughout the series though, especially those that depict John lurking on the fringes of each scene’s frame or silently watching Debra, but beyond that most of the content here is pretty standard. The usual colour tints for flashbacks are a nice inclusion too although on reflection it may have been nice to see these edited out across the series rather than thrown into the middle as a way of explaining what’s happened.
Still, despite its flaws Dirty John is one of those love/hate shows that’s going to turn away as many people as it will attract in. The overly melodramatic tones and annoying daughters are a bit of a blemish across the entire series but if you can take to the main plot line and look past these flaws, Dirty John does get a whole lot more interesting after the first few episodes. Whether you’ll make it that far is up for debate but if you can stick it out, great acting from the two lead characters should be enough to see you through to the end.