With “Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story”, the reveal has happened already in the season premiere taking the pressure off making the trajectory more a character piece understanding what got this seemingly Catholic, well thinking woman who was stuck in a path that she did not choose but didn’t mind unraveled. The aspect of motivation and tells are expected and predictable. Humans do follow a pattern of behavior and opposites tend to attract so when the essence that made someone attractive with their strength while the other was more passive really starts to take place here showing the darkness sometimes of such a path. The dependency degrades especially if it is not requited. This in an interesting and familiar construct. People could suggest (on either side) who is at fault or who allowed for such things to happen but it a progression of circumstance and situation. Betty is not a bad person but what actions justify the means and vice versa become a barometer.
This episode “Marriage Encounter” shows the breakdown from both perspectives while not making it clear which side each is taking though they keep moving further apart. Amanda Peet is, again, good, despite a slight overplay but that is in keeping with the 80s/90s type of projected ego type versus homemaker. She watches a situation establish itself and maybe through paranoia doesn’t talk about it under it explodes in a confrontation that doesn’t work the way she wanted it too. Goodwill and best intentions sometimes make people drift apart. But what is clear is how much she gave up to support him willingly. Yet signs of his narcissism and character flaws are readily apartment, Christian Slater isn’t afraid to play Daniel Broderick unlikable though he has certain points. One scene inside a counseling session that is itself tinged with religion is very telling but also a signs a precipice where behavior can be fixed or simply been thrown to the side as the characters head into the abyss.
By Tim Wassberg