TV Review: Omg...Could I Go Full Betty Broderick?
It was scarily more relatable than you'd think.
Poor Betty. Oh wait. I'm not supposed to think that...Source: Heaven of Horror
Omg. Has anyone watched the new series of Dirty John 2: The Betty Broderick Story? Guys. I am deeply affected. It's shaken me two days later. I can't sleep. My heart pounds. Everything is different now. Me, my husband, our relationship. No-one is above suspicion. NO-ONE!
All I really knew about this true crime series turned Netflix drama was that Betty Broderick shot her ex-husband and his new wife dead in the 80s. But omg...the showwww. Like, as I was watching, all I could think was not what a nut, but omg...could I go full Betty Broderick?
Let me explain. The story goes back and forth from the past to their present. It starts in the 80s with Betty Broderick (played brilliantly by Amanda Peet) who appears as a slightly unhinged woman who is utterly obsessed with her ex-husband Dan Broderick (Christian Slater) - she refuses to go to court for divorce hearings, she has lost access to her kids, she's convinced they will get back together, she keeps calling him in the middle of the night, leaving crazed voicemails and showing up at his house unannounced, and her own children are afraid of her. She literally drives into his house and her concerned husband calls police, and as a doctor, recommends she get treatment in a hospital instead of jail. Here is where we find out that she actually killed Dan, and through a series of flashbacks, we see how this came to be.
This is where shit changes, and why two days later I keep sending my husband shift glances every time he smiles or waves at me. Jerk.
We see through flashback how they met at uni in the 1960s- a young and beautiful Betty with an over-eager to please Dan during college. Their love unfolding with sparks in their eyes, intimacy and fun banter aplenty. He's desperate to marry her, but she wants to finish uni and become a teacher. Their love blossoms, and they end up marrying young anyway. To be fair to Betty, the real initial red flag only appears on the wedding night, when he tells the maid not to disturb because they're married now and besides, he says to Betty, 'You know how to make a bed'. I mean, ew, but also, 60s, so maybe wasn't as problematic at the time.
They don't use protection like the 'good Catholics' they are, and for a while there they've got two young kids, living on food stamps whilst Betty also works shitty jobs as the sole income earner to support Dan through med school. Betty is doing absolutely everything - working, taking care of the home and the kids, all there to support Dan's 'dream'. When she gets preggo again, she's beyond devo and begs him to consider an abortion, but he thinks it's 'against God' and assures her he will be around this time. Oh, and also, hey Bets, he says, you stood by me through med school, but actually nah I'm not into that - I'm going to law school. Arrogant fuck. So, they move the whole family to Boston for him to study and have fun with the boys club while she shleps around their kids, constantly going on about how wonderful he is and how his career will soar. Young and ambitious, she is there to support his dreams, and they appear more in love than ever.
Fast forward a few years and life seems pretty idyllic. They've got good money, surrounded by like-minded friends, with now a fourth and final son (when she tells him she wants her tubes tied, he barely listens), and everyone around them thinks their life is perfect. But, the cracks begin to show.
Betty tells her husband she isn't feeling closeness - he doesn't touch her, say he loves her and he barely look at her. She suggests they go to church wedding counselling, where he confesses that he basically thinks religion is junk (even though it wasn't when she was desperate for an abortion, but k). To his credit, he agrees to come along to couples counselling, where they appear to start getting on the right track again, saying how they will vow to love and treasure each other forever.
With Betty's help, Dan's career continues to go from strength to strength. He builds his own practice which gets bigger by the minute, and they begin to live a life of luxury. Money starts to change them. Whilst Betty can't believe how far they've come, Dan doesn't want to talk about it - he wants upgrades on restaurants, holidays houses, sporting clubs - and soon, a wife.
Close friends of theirs go through a rough time, with the female friend confiding in Betty that he had affairs but, crying, she thinks it can work out through counselling, when the male friend asks Dan and his buddies how to make sure she doesn't get a dime. The men sit around laughing and making sure he has all his money intact, like hiding his bonus and declaring the day he wishes to separate. Dan doesn't seem at all perturbed by his friend's behaviour, and admonishes Betty when she later refuses to go to the wedding of the male friend and his mistress.
Dan has begun to change, too - he's taking more pride in the superficial, changing from his trademark specs to contacts, and Betty overhears him describing his new receptionist Linda as 'beautiful', a word he has never used to describe her. Betty goes to the office to see for herself (which tbh, is already a HUGE red flag in your relationship) and dread washes over her when she sees Linda is young and pretty. When Dan casually adds into conversation that he has made Linda his assistant, despite having zero qualifications, Betty cracks it. After seeing what happened with their friends, she tells him he has one month to get rid of her, or he can get out of their house.
A month later, Betty phones Dan at work - only for Linda to answer the phone. She's still there. Devastated, she confronts Dan when he gets home, telling him that she said to get rid of her. Instead of apologising, or convincing her that there is nothing going on...he goes dark, telling her, 'I heard you. Your mistake was in thinking it was up to you. I make all the money, so if anyone is getting out of this house, it's you.' Oh, shivers!
In this moment, we can see: Betty realises they're not partners. He's slipping, and she has no power. Ladies, this is why we need to be in charge of our own money with a room of one's own cos FUCKKK.
The next few eps are so tumultuous and tbh, just so traumatic. Honestly...I felt it in my heart. He basically gaslights her for a YEAR making her think she is batshit crazy for suspecting an affair, lying multiple times, only to find he had been cheating on her all along. That would drive anyone crazy, for real.
I felt sick. Like, why is he doing this to Betty? They were so in love! He was so obsessed with her! At that moment, my husband Will, who is currently the money maker while I pleb away on my tv reviews after the 'rona hit, walked in. 'How are you, sweetheart?' he said with a smile. I looked at him with dagger eyes. THAT'S WHAT DAN SAID! If Dan loved Betty so much and they could joke and have fun...WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO US? ARE WE DAN AND BETTY? I was furious. I couldn't sleep. Like, I kept feeling for her on such a heightened emotional level. She's given her whole life, four children, sacrificed her own goals and dreams and devoted herself to him only for him to gaslight her into the oblivion, penniless. Like...I really feel I could go full Betty Broderick. All night I kept asking Will for affection, but by the 123rd request for a hug, he'd had enough. 'OMG!' I yelled, 'JUST LIKE DAN BRODERICK! WHAT, SO YOU'RE LIKE, OVER ME NOW? BORED OF ME? I SWEAR TO GOD WILL, I WILL CHOP IT OFF!' I seriously would. I've already told him multiple times this is what will happen. Like, yeah I'll go to jail, but it will be worth it. (Jks! Hahaha...kinda).
Watching, you can see how a seemingly 'normal' woman was literally driven to madness - emotional abuse, financial abuse, gaslighting her for years, taking the children, taking her home and moving the 21-year-old girlfriend in, he has her committed to a psych ward, blocked her legal representation, tricks her into not coming to their divorce signing...I mean...the manipulation literally made my skin crawl and my eyes well up. No one is saying murder is okay. I wish she had just divorced him, gotten heaps of cash and flown to Costa Rica with the pool boy (take notes, future me should Will GO FULL DAN). But through their story, you can really see how a seemingly sane woman, or person, can literally be driven to insanity.
As recapped in Vulture so perfectly, "Just like that, Betty realizes [sic] that their marriage is no longer a partnership. They are no longer in this together. And most likely they never were. All she has done for him — from typing his briefs in law school to working two jobs while pregnant to put him through medical school — meant nothing. She’s become like the restaurant he’s tired of. He’s willing to cast her aside and forget about her and trade her in for a newer model."
Dan moves on, treating his former wife that he once loved so dearly with absolute disdain and trying his darndest to make she doesn't receive a thing. He also seems to go out of his way to show cruelty - Linda is in the house that betty made a home, Linda comes on the trips, events - shes even on the fucking answering machine when you've called 'The Brodericks'. He wears a 'morning coat' for his second marriage when he refused to wear one in his first and honeymoons in the same place (so creepy, like how was Linda down for that?)
What happens next is where everything takes the unfortunate turn that unravels it all. Betty just...loses it. She leaves crazed voice mails, smashes up his property, screams profanities at him in front of the children, and loses her grip on reality. It's sad to watch. Her children are frightened of her, she leaves them with Dan as 'his responsibility' whilst exuding horrible behaviour in front of them. Her mental health has slipped, and with it, her ability to heal. Dan doesn't help - he even sends Betty 'fines' for her behaviours that gets cut out of her alimony (what?) and tricks her into a terrible settlement, making fun of her with friends and family in his 'new' life with Linda.
I'm going on, but in short, this is what leads up to Betty stealing her daughter's key, cruising into her former home, and being found guilty of second-degree murder of Dan and Linda. She is still in jail today, and is next eligible for parole in 2032. The whole story is utterly, utterly tragic for all of them.
I'm not saying murder is okay. Obviously, it is not the answer. More mental health support, more self-confidence, more access to health facilities. You wish it could have been different for all of them. But watching a perfectly sane woman morph into such a spell of desperation and mental illness because of the emotional and financial abuse, I could honestly see how in similar circumstances, without help or a pool boy, I could go full Betty Broderick. We all could.
Overall: A heart-breaking watch, Like, amazing acting, but I never want to see or think about it again, you know? My heart still hurts and I still refuse to look my husband in the eye. DON'T FUCKING BRODERICK ME OR I WILL CHOP IT OFF!!!