As a companion piece to the “Dirty John” miniseries detailing “The Betty Broderick Story” , “Snapped: Betty Broderick” on Oxygen shows the actual life from the facts that were extrapolated from friends and the media coverage at the time of the event in the late 80s. Granted at the time many elements can take a slight bias while others don’t. Certain similarities in process come to mind. Betty (also known as Elizabeth), is shown as a model who grew up and went to school in NY with parents who were well off which wasn’t really highlighted in the mini-series. The progress of Betty giving up any dreams to help Dan Broderick reach his from Notre Dame to Harvard Law doesn’t speak to parents on either side helping in part. In the series, Betty’s parents are seen as very cold so it is interesting to take basic pull-aways of that the relationships were. The psychological impacts behind closed doors (and obviously this took place before cell phones) can be perceived as hearsay so there is of course disconnect. The aspect of the boyfriend Betty had post-divorce is not integrated into the miniseries and that brings a slightly different angle to it. In real life, he is the one who first discovered the bodies. Supposedly Betty was set off by the kids being taken away from here but that would bely a psychotic break from an action that seemed to have occurred. Of course, this kind of human nature is , by its definition, illogical.
Again, as recently as 2017 at a parole hearing where she was denied release, Broderick didn’t express remorse for her actions but said she was driven to do it. And yet her kids ended up without either parent per se so the motivation is outside logic since it is this family she was striving to protect. The angle which this documentary goes into has to do with premeditation which can be legally slippery as explained. While the first trial Betty had which ended in an apparent mistrial (this is not made as clear here versus the miniseries), Betty Broderick speaks on camera from the court footage of being battered by Dan (which was not mentioned in the miniseries). The miniseries also speaks that one juror who was the hold out of the jury agreed to the 2nd degree murder conviction so Betty could possibly have been out in 5 years. Yet the judge apparently threw the book at Betty with the maximum sentence allowed by law. No discussions of psychological evaluation are mentioned so there are many loose ends that seem to still trail the story in terms of closure. Now 72, Betty won’t be eligible for parole until 2032 when she is 84. It just seems particularly sad just from a family lost point of view and though the woman herself is not interviewed for this doc, she obviously still holds a space in American consciousness as her story is still being discussed 30 years later.
By Tim Wassberg