'Dirty John' review: Connie Britton loses Debra Newell under all that melodrama
'Red Flags and Parades', the second episode of the series was annoying to say the least, thanks to Britton's over the top portrayal of a woman desperately in love.
'Dirty John's podcast was originally a terrifying story about a con man who, like an infectious parasite caught on to Debra Newell's life like there was no tomorrow. Bravo's TV adaptation is turning out to be far from terrifying and it has a lot to do with the melodrama that the show just won't let go of. 'Red Flags and Parades', the second episode of the series was annoying, to say the least - and it had a lot to do with Connie Britton's over the top portrayal of a woman desperately in love.
This chapter finally picks up the pace in terms of the plot - we finally start to unmask Meehan and get a glimpse of the man he really is. It all starts with Veronica wondering about Meehan's whereabouts, especially since he's been cruising around town in her mom's Maserati. She installs a tracker in the car and after a week of seeing nothing out of the ordinary, decides to hire a private detective. Meanwhile, Meehan is getting closer and closer to the family. While Debra continues to defend her secret husband, she stumbles upon a bunch of restraining orders - and her world starts spinning.
Connie plays an incredibly successful, 59-year-old interior designer who has everything going for her. She's independent, has raised two beautiful girls and knows how to get the job done. However, none of the things essentially come through when you watch her on screen. Instead, you see an aging woman, who is rich and stupid and refuses to use her brains. She's so blinded by infatuation, she just won't use her head. A poorly written adaptation, with heavy doses of over the top drama, Newell's innocence, in this case, just implodes within the story.
Newell appears like she's high on something, to be honest. Maybe it's the vodka-laced smoothies. It is less happy, more forced than ever. Connie fails to bring in the naive nature of someone who is getting conned - it feels like she's trying so hard to look like she had nothing to do with it, something that is already established. Her tilting her head and making wide eyes at everything confusing doesn't come across as a woman who is so happy with life that she just doesn't get why everyone won't love her boyfriend as much as she does - which is the essence of Debra Newell's real-life scare. Enough with the fake "ha-ha"s already - no one is buying that, really.
The real story is sinister right from the start and in some ways, this adaptation has stripped off that characteristic - or rather, just covered it up with lots of almost reality show elements. The depth of pulling off a con like Meehan did and the emotional upheaval that Newell must have gone through is missing - so far. While Eric Bana is definitely believable as a conman, the writers took it a bit far with his gimmicks. It's one thing to make her breakfast, it's totally another to think you belong on Top Chef. Agreed that they are both of Bravo's shows, but one is a reality show, 'Dirty John'.
'Red Flags and Parades', however, gave us the cliffhanger that we've been waiting for all this time. It definitely set the mood for what's to come - a thriller, which we signed up for in the first place. We are almost certain that the next episode in the season, 'Remember It Was Me' will start off with a showdown between the couple. Hopefully, it will get more real now that Debra will have a chance to shed her googly eyes and really look at their ill-fated romance and the man standing in front of her claiming to be the perfect guy.
'Dirty John' airs every Sunday on Bravo.