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“Dirty John”: The unexpected answer to quarantine induced boredom

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Dirty John

Courtesy Bravo

Just when we feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to begin a new Netflix series, the COVID-19 pandemic took the U.S. by storm. Many states are under lockdown, many are quarantining, and more are practicing social distancing. The COVID-19 outbreak is a dangerous situation not only in the U.S. but all across the globe. It’s critical to practice social distancing and listen to your state’s guidelines as we all navigate through this unfortunate event.  So, in that case…social distancing and virtually chill?

It’s beneficial to be informed during this difficult time but to also find ways to ease our minds. Luckily, Netflix released a new feature on its platform that allows viewers to watch shows and movies together, but apart. According to the Netflix Party website, people can “use Netflix Party to link up with friends and host long-distance movie nights and TV watch parties.” (AKA Bachelor re-runs watch parties all day every day). But in all seriousness, this new feature has become helpful in entertaining and connecting viewers without the possibility of in person encounters at this time. But finding that perfect series to start on Netflix can be challenging, especially when there is more than one opinion in your Netflix Party.

One of Bravo’s most successful scripted series that is now available on Netflix is thanks to showrunner Alexandra Cunningham. Cunningham is the mind behind familiar TV series like “Desperate Housewives and “Chance.” Her latest success combines drama and forensic mystery to tell the story of the lies and manipulation John Meehan entangled into his romantic relationships; “Dirty John.”

This TV series originally launched in November 2018 on Bravo Networks but will be moving to USA for season 2. All seasons, like season 1, are intended to be released on Netflix as well. “Dirty John is the first season within this series, which will tell a different true crime story each season. “Dirty John tells the mind-boggling story of John Meehan and his romantic relationship with Deborah Newell.

Connie Britton plays Deborah in this series; the woman of John Meehan’s interest. She’s a single, affluent mother who has not yet given up on finding love. Britton is best known for her roles in “Nashville”(2012)and “Friday Night Lights” (2006).Eric Bana plays John Meehan. He’s a seemingly nice man who’s unfavorable past and creepy behavior unfolds episode after episode. Julia Garner and Juno Temple play Deborah’s daughters in the series who have a large influence on the storyline. Garner is best known for her work in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012)and “Ozark”(Netflix series)and Temple can be seen in “Maleficent (2014)and “Mr. Nobody (2009).

 

Deborah is swept off her feet when John Meehan, a proclaimed doctor, comes into her life and becomes everything she’s ever wanted in a husband. Their relationship progresses oddly fast which turns the heads of Deborah’s daughters, Terra and Veronica. Their initial thoughts of John are not as positive and perfect as their mother’s. As time goes on and Deborah continues to ignore her daughter’s warnings, the relationship turns toxic and John’s true colors slowly emerge scene by scene, putting Deborah in a dangerous situation that promises no escape.

Britton’s acting seems to be the only aspect of the show that has been criticized by viewers. Some claim she is portrayed too oblivious and that it makes the storyline somewhat not convincing. Contrary to this belief, other viewers, like myself, feel that her acting represents just how blinding love can be in a toxic relationship. Regardless of how you perceive her acting, her behavior in the series is frustrating. Everyone wants her to see John’s real character right away, but the sense of oblivion she creates is what keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. It’s the reason people binge watch so long that Netflix will ask “Are you still watching?” Bana’s acting and portrayal of John Meehan are absolutely convincing and flawless. He nails everything from the looks on his face, his ability to switch the tone of the scene in seconds, and his body language. “Dirty John” reflects the fantastic work Cunningham produces. Britton and Bana were chosen as seamless fits for the roles and Cunningham’s carefully thought out plot derived from the true story was the recipe for telling a story of a toxic relationship so convincingly and interestingly.

In the pilot episode, Deborah meets John for the first time, and they enjoy a wonderful first date. As the night concludes, John tries to take things further than Deborah would like. When she politely asks him to stop, he becomes enraged and storms out of her apartment with no explanation for his actions. And it’s not just anger and disappointment you can see in John’s face; there’s something else lingering in the back of his mind that viewers can’t and won’t understand until the end of the series. It’s scenes like this one that appear throughout the series that instill so much suspense and curiosity among viewers.

As we now have so much time on our hands due to the precautions taken in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, there’s plenty of time to search through TV series and movies and choose ones to watch. But, if you’re trying to keep yourself busy, the unexpected and disturbing storyline of “Dirty John” will have you absorbed in understanding John Meehan’s mind.

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