The true crime story behind Netflix’s Dirty John season 2 explained in full

Monday, 21st September 2020, 2:53 pm
Updated Monday, 21st September 2020, 4:37 pm
The true crime anthology is back for another season (Photo: Netflix)
The true crime anthology is back for another season (Photo: Netflix)

The first season of Netflix true crime drama Dirty John was met with critical acclaim in 2019, and earned star Connie Britton award nominations for her performance at the likes of The Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Television Awards.

Now, Dirty John is back with a new season and a new tale to unravel - the Betty Broderick story.

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But who is Bettry Broderick, and what did she do? This is everything you need to know - but anyone hoping to avoid spoilers for the new season should look away now.

Who is Betty Broderick?

The first season of Dirty John was based on the popular podcast of the same name, which explored the true story of John Meehan (played by Eric Bana), a conman and pathological liar who wormed his way into the life of Debra Newell (Connie Britton).

Season two focuses on another true crime story - that of American woman Elisabeth ‘Betty’ Broderick, who was convicted of killing her ex-husband, Daniel, and his new wife, Linda, in 1989.

Broderick met her future husband in 1965 at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. The two were married in 1969, and quickly had children, daughters Kim in 1970 and Lee the following year. They then had a son who passed away shortly after birth, followed by sons Daniel and Rhett in 1976 and 1979.

Betty Broderick would claim that the two were happy together, calling it “the perfect marriage.”

However, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, her daughter Kim said, “Mom would get mad at Dad all the time. Once, Mom picked up the stereo and threw it at him. And she locked him out constantly. He’d come around to my window and whisper, ‘Kim, let me in’.”

The marriage continued to break down in 1982, after Dan hired a new secretary, Linda Kolkena. Betty was convinced the two were having an affair, which drove her to attempt to take her own life in 1983.

The following year, the Brodericks moved out of the family home. In 1985, Dan and Linda moved back into the home together.

Betty and Dan began what would become a very bitter divorce process. At one point, there was a court order in place which prevented Betty from entering the old family home that Dan and Linda shared, but she broke in, causing chaos. She threw a wine bottle through the window, smeared pie over the bed, broke mirrors and spray painted the walls.

The divorce proceedings went on for five years. Betty had difficulty attaining a good lawyer.

At the end of the divorce, she was granted $16,100 a month, plus a separate $28,000 in the settlement - but sole custody of the children was granted to Dan.

By the time of Linda and Dan’s wedding in 1989, Broderick had already threatened to kill Dan at least once.

What did Betty Broderick do?

Early on Sunday 5 November 1989, Betty Broderick entered her ex-husband’s home, using a key she had taken from her daughter, and made her way to the bedroom, where she fired five gunshots, killing Dan and Linda in their bed. A few hours after the murders, Broderick turned herself into the police.

At her first trial, Broderick’s defense claimed that she had been a battered wife, and said that she had been driven over the edge by years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of her ex-husband.

The prosecution portrayed Broderick as a cold blooded murderer who planned to murder her ex-husband.

The first trial ended with a hung jury and a mistrial was declared by the judge.

Betty Broderick was then re-tried a year later, where the defence was successful in convincing the jury. In 1991, she was found guilty of the second degree murders of the couple and sentenced to a minimum of 32 years in prison.

Broderick is currently held at the California Institution for Women in Chino, California.

She has been denied parole three times over the years, with the most recent hearing taking place in 2017. She will not be eligible for parole again until January 2032, at which point she will be 84 years old.

Who is in the cast of season two?

The first season of Dirty John featured some big names in its cast, and the same goes for the second season.

The cast includes:

  • Christian Slater (Mr. Robot, Archer) as Dan Broderick
  • Amanda Peet (Brockmire, The Good Wife) as Betty Broderick
  • Rachel Keller (Legion, Fargo) as Linda Kolkena
  • Michael Rispoli (The Deuce, Billions) as Betty’s father
  • Anna Jacoby-Heron (The First, Relationship Status) as Jenny Broderick
  • Lily Donoghue (Jane the Virgin, The Goldbergs) as Tracy Broderick

When can I watch season two?

Dirty John season two is currently available to watch on Netflix.

The second season was dropped in its entirety on 14 August 2020. There are eight episodes in the second season, the same as the first one, with each episode lasting around 45 minutes.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, the Yorkshire Evening Post