In this age of peak-TV, not every show can be prestige television. Some series are meant to be enjoyed, digested and then promptly forgotten. Dirty John is one of those shows.
When I watched the pilot a month ago, I found myself intrigued by the story of a three-time divorcée whose life is turned upside down by an unsettling stranger (who pretends to be an all-round nice guy). After binging my way through the show’s first season, my thoughts remain the same: there’s nothing groundbreaking about Dirty John, but it makes for some very entertaining TV.
Obviously the MVP here is Eric Bana with his duplicitous turn as John the con-man. He makes the show because you totally buy his sneaky evildoings as well as his flashy heroics. Much like You‘s Penn Badgley (another actor who recently portrayed a demented stalker), Bana’s performance elevates the show in every way. He’s not nearly as layered (he’s pretty much evil all the way through), but he’s very compelling to watch.
However, Dirty’s John‘s female lead is a real misfire. Connie Britton is just so miscast here; I don’t know if it’s the script’s shortcomings but she’s saddled with a terribly boring and frustrating role. Every one of her scenes seems to be a variation of Debra acting confused and wandering around aimlessly with no agency. She’s not a protagonist you root for and that can make for a really grating experience. Thankfully her sharp-tongued daughter Veronica is an absolute hoot who steals every one of her scenes. Somebody give Juno Temple her own show asap!
It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but Dirty John still manages to be an addictive little thriller.