TV Review: Dirty John 2: The Betty Broderick Story
The show that will affirm for you that if your husband wronged you, you would be 100% capable of murder.
Source: USA Network
Everybody who was anybody in their little corner of California, La Jolla knew the Brodericks. They were the 80s version of Instagram Influencers. Like they would be blue tick established for sure. Daniel Broderick with his degrees from medical school and Harvard Law School was a celebrity malpractice lawyer bring in more cash money than anybody needs. Accordingly, their lifestyle was lush and Betty’s days consistent of country club lunches and shuffling their four children around to soccer and music lessons. They were living my dream life. Until one day, Dan hit classic middle-aged white man mid-life crisis mode. He got a red corvette, told Betty he was divorcing her and shacked up with his 21-year-old secretary. So original Dan. What follows is a brutal five year divorce, until Betty is so exhausted and can’t fight anymore. It becomes a landmark case, resonating with jilted women everywhere.
Starring Amanda Peet, who is one of those actors you know from everywhere but can’t pinpoint where, and Christina Slater who you may remember from your eldest cousin's Smash Hit wall posters or Robin Hood, The Betty Broderick Story tells the tale of how a seemingly happy, mentally stable housewife with it all descends to a point where she casually kills her ex-husband and new wife, with no regrets.
Like the original season of Dirty John, this is a true story, but there are no links. So I came into this with the preconceived idea that it was about heavy gas lighting and had seen so many people say they empathised with Betty. So, in the first few episodes, I thought I was missing something, because Betty wasn’t really likeable at all and it seemed liked she was asking for trouble. Honestly, gas lighting was pretty light on too. Then I realised I only thought it was light gas lighting because my friends have been gas lighted so much worse.
Source: Showbiz Junkies
But it’s a slow burn and as I kept watching, it wasn’t about overt gas lighting. That would be too easy. Over the five years, Dan inflicted sublet but extreme emotional abuse on Betty. Dan uses his court influence to win full custody of the children, on her visits he would change his mind at the last minute, he withholds support payments, he has Betty sent to jail and even briefly locked up in a mental institution. He literally drove her insane.
Look Betty is not without fault, she does deface his house, leave hundreds of obscene messages on his answering machine and of course threaten to kill him, but she’s a woman scorned, so we kinda get it.
The scenes that are pivotal to this shitshow are those of the early days of their marriage, where Dan is going through both medical and law school. Betty is going through five pregnancies, one child she lost at four days old, yet she is the bread winner because she will do anything to support her husband. From these scenes it’s so clear, she didn’t have a hint of mental disturbance prior to his mid-life crisis. There was not a red flag in sight.
It’s so refreshing to watch something with established, quality actors. It makes all the difference. Peet and Slater are both phenomenal. There is not a single line of dialogue or non-verbal action from either that’s wasted. Just like Betty’s, your emotions will go on a ride. You’ll go from hating her, to feeling sorry for her, liking Dan, hating Dan, hating the new wife, to crying full blow Kim Kardashian ugly tears, to being worried about how relatable the whole story actually is and affirming that you could 100% go full Betty Broderick like Jess mentioned in her review if that happened to you. It’s a wild, wild ride, but 100% worth it. And obviously there's so much juicy digging to do about the characters in real life afterwards. Definitely one of the best offerings on Netflix this year.
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