Spoilers ahead for the Season 2 premiere of Dirty John on USA.
Dirty John is back, and it is totally different. Among the changes are new stars. Amanda Peet and Christian Slater taking over the reins from Connie Britton and Eric Bana. Season 2 tells the tale of Betty Broderick and her ill-fated marriage to Dan Broderick, and Peet and Slater are surprisingly likable in their unlikable respective roles.
Anyone slightly familiar with true crime is probably familiar with the subject of Dirty John’s second season. After a painful divorce, Betty Broderick murdered her ex-husband, Dan, and his new wife, Linda, in November of 1989. The Season 2 premiere’s first half ends with the reveal of what Betty did without much detail, while the second half is all about the lead up to the killings.
Dirty John does itself a lot of favors by casting two incredibly charismatic actors in the lead roles for its USA debut. (The previous season was on Bravo.) The casting results in giving Betty and Dan their best representation. This is a complicated story, and it is only going to grow more so in the weeks to come. After a hit season that dealt in more clarity, Season 2 gets murky.
Amanda Peet makes for an incredibly compelling Betty in Dirty John’s Season 2 premiere. Peet is believable in all respects, from playing Betty as a loving homemaker to a distraught wife whose life is being ripped away from her by a husband she still loves. Peet’s Betty is struggling to accept that her husband has no compassion left for her.
It is tough not to feel Betty’s plight. Dirty John never stops reminding viewers that what they are watching is how Betty comes to rationalize what is going to happen. Amanda Peet has many impressive scenes throughout the Season 2 premiere, and none of them are more powerful than her monologue to the doctor. In it, she explains Dan’s power and his influence.
Speaking of Dan, the always-charismatic Christian Slater puts on a likable turn as Dan Broderick. As presented in Dirty John’s Season 2 premiere, Dan is not an entirely vindictive person. Even if he does seem a lot like one.
He does share a laugh with a sad Betty over an old inside joke of theirs, making her think there is hope for some sort of reconciliation. Dan has not had a change of heart, though.
In the earlier scene where Dan has Betty committed, Christian Slater portrays Dan as cool as a cucumber, resolved to what he has to do but taking no pleasure in it. That said, Dan lacks compassion for his wife and the sacrifices that she has made for him and their family. Dirty John works hard to bring it home.
In related news, Christian Slater is not done with true crime. He is set to star in the TV adaptation of Wondery podcast, Dr. Death. I look forward to seeing what he does there and continues to do as Dirty John Season 2 moves ahead.
Unlike the first season, there is no real “dirty” at this point. Or at least, no one that matches the archetype of Season 1’s subject – John Meehan, who was a criminal con-man whose last crime of many was an attempted abduction. In this sense, the Broderick saga is a surprising case if the anthology’s two seasons wished to have something in common. As Dirty John progresses in its second season, it may make more sense.
As for Amanda Peet and Christian Slater, they should bring their best as Season 2 chronicles what unraveled between the Brodericks. New episodes of Dirty John Season 2 air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on USA. It is one of this summer’s premieres. The first season of Dirty John is currently streaming on Netflix, along with lots of 2020 premieres.