Eric Bana. Connie Britton. Really, the show could be anything at all and you'd still want to watch. As it happens, though, Dirty John is a deliciously pulpy psychological thriller that's partly about a kind of extreme catfishing but more interestingly an exploration of the mechanics of an abusive relationship. Britton has been widely – and rightly – praised for her performance as Debra Newell, a middle-aged single mother and successful professional looking for love online. As she falls for John – and then, eventually, comes to realise her terrible mistake – she makes every step of the emotional journey completely believable (even as we're shouting, 'No! Don't go there!'). And as for Bana, well, anyone who's ever seen Chopper knows how deftly and convincingly he's able to swing between charming and psychopathic and back again. Credit also has to go to showrunner Alexandra Cunningham and her team (including director Jeffrey Reiner) for creating a script and a structure that lets the cast shine – and has us utterly sucked in. The romantic montage, for instance, is a cliche so hackneyed it was being spoofed 40 years ago in Mad magazine but here it's rendered fresh and persuasive. Ordinary domestic scenes effortlessly become freighted with foreboding. What's more, this is based on the real story of a psychopathic conman, nicely ticking the "true crime" box as well.
Dirty John is based on the real story of a psychopathic conman.Credit:Bravo
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