Dirty John, True Crime

The Podcast/TV Series about Love and Murder

BY: Claire Connors

Based on the hugely popular podcast by Los Angeles Times reporter Chris Goffard, Dirty John is a cautionary tale of finding love online with a complete—and dangerous—stranger.

In 2014, Debra Newell was a beautiful and successful interior designer looking for love on dating sites like Match.com. After kissing a lot of frogs, she finally met what seemed like the man of her dreams: a rich, handsome, attentive anesthesiologist named John Meehan. As John charmed, flattered, and seduced the love-starved Debra, she became completely blind to all of the red flags that his bizarre behavior started raising. Little did she know she was falling hopelessly in love with a con man whose icky nicknames, given to him by his college classmates, were Dirty John…or Filthy John…or just Filthy. Doesn’t he sound like a swell guy?

Debra’s children, Terra and Jacquelyn Newell, were immediately suspect, seeing many warning signs in their mother’s new lover. But despite their efforts to kick John to curb, Debra went behind their backs and married a man she had only known for two months. Convinced their mother was being hoodwinked by this manipulative charlatan, they started following John and learned his dark secret: he had swindled more than a dozen women before Debra, out of their life’s savings. They convinced Debra that she was married to legitimate psychopath, and she left him. No spoilers, but suffice it to say, when Dirty John realizes his comfy life is about to explode in his face? All. Hell. Breaks. Loose.

The tragic, criminal ending of the story drew the attention of LA Times reporter Chris Goffard, who started looking into Meehan’s background for a possible piece for his paper. Those articles turned in the podcast, which aired in October 2017 and was at the top of the iTune America’s charts for weeks, with over 10 million downloads. Many critics compare it to the brilliance of NPR’s Serial. The only question anyone had was, why do a podcast when you can make a TV series?

Problem solved! Bravo’s scripted series of the same name arrives starting November 25th, starring Connie Britton (Nashville) as Debra, Eric Bana (Munich) as John, Julia Garner, our favorite actor in the second season of Ozark, as Terra, and Juno Temple (Wonder Wheel) as Veronica. The six-part series promises to be just as scary—and just as satisfying—as the original.

In case the podcast and the Bravo series still isn’t enough for you true crime lovers, the Oxygen Channel is doing their own documentary, Dirty John, The Dirty Truth, where you can meet all of these fascinating real-life characters, including the reporter himself, Chris Goffard. Check out the trailer for that, here.

Dirty John, The Dirty Truth will air in January on Oxygen.

Connie Britton and Eric Bana in Dirty John


connie britton
Connie Britton in Dirty John


Eric Bana and Connie Britton in Dirty John