Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story| Season 2, Ep. 1| No Fault
This USA network show chronicles the murder of Betty Broderick’s (protagonist and antagonist played by Amanda Peete) husband, Dan Broderick (played by Christian Slater), along with his current wife, Linda Broderick. Albeit, throughout the first episode, there’s no mention of Linda, and that’s maybe because Betty and Dan haven’t gotten divorced yet. Anyhow, the show will delineate Betty and Dan’s divorce, which eventually leads to Betty’s demise.
The episode starts off in the year 1986, with Betty and her attorney on their way to see her husband, Dan, who are currently in the middle of divorce proceedings. Betty refuses to go into the building with her attorney because she figures Dan would be concerned enough to come down and check on her, which would show Betty that he still loves and cares for her. Well, it turns out that he doesn’t, because he doesn’t come down. Dan has found a buyer for the home that they previously shared, and Betty tries to sabotage the sale, because deep down she knows that if their house is sold, then the door in their marriage would be unequivocally closed. Since Betty refuses to negotiate, Dan got a court order, and used what they call a four-hour notice, which allowed him to present his case, despite Betty’s absence. This left Betty unhinged as she hastily drove her car into Dan’s current house, which lead to Dan having her committed into a mental institution.
While at the mental institution, Betty divulges to the psychiatrist that her husband, Dan, was not a real doctor, since he went to medical school but didn’t complete his residency, and later went to law school. She says this because when Betty was being arrested before being brought into the mental house, Dan called himself a doctor. She also tells the psychiatrist that if Dan wanted him to call her crazy for the record, then he should, because Dan always got what he wanted. I think she tells him this to manipulate him into being impartial, but we shall see how this turns out. Betty also seems rancor in that she was the perfect wife to Dan, perfect mother, perfect friend, perfect to strangers, and perfect in general, but Dan strayed, and she’s the one being punished. Even after all the events that occurred, Betty was still holding out hope for their marriage. She obviously loved Dan, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. I’m sure, at least I hope that throughout this season, we get to see how the disintegration of their marriage occurred. But, I did notice that there were two sides to Betty. On one end, she seemed polite and gracious, but when she would talk to her friends about Dan, she made him appear so appalling —In retrospect, I don’t see why she wanted to continue the marriage.
Dan later sends Betty a letter about attending a hearing for a bifurcated divorce, where an immediate divorce would be granted. He also mentions that he wants full custody of their four children while Betty gets visitation, and will temporarily pay Betty monthly spousal support, and will assume all responsibility on their debts and Betty won’t file a claim against his law practice. With all this, Dan is discordant on Betty’s attorney fee’s and wants her to pay for her own attorney. Betty’s attorney eventually quits, because no one has paid his retainer fees, and Betty doesn’t and can’t listen to his legal advice, because she doesn’t want the divorce.
With the advice of her friends, Betty decides to get a new job working in an art gallery. She thinks that if she changes up her style a bit, Dan would eventually see her. When she informs Dan of her new job, he’s curt and doesn’t give her the reaction she’d hoped for. He reminds her of their divorce and castigates her for not having an attorney. Incidentally, throughout the episode, almost every time we see Dan, he has a red rose plastered on his suit. I wonder what the significance is—I’m sure we will find out what this means during the season. Later on, Betty goes out on a night of partying with one of her friends, who happen to be widowed. Betty can’t imagine meeting a new man, and the thought of having sex with another man is debasing to her. While dancing, she can’t concentrate, as all she can see is a vision of Dan on the dance floor. When she gets home, she calls Dan in her befuddled state, and they reminisce about an event that occurred in their past. Well, this was short-lived, because when the children come over to Betty’s, her sons inform her that they have been seeing a therapist, and the therapist has been trying to gauge them about what scares them, with an emphasis on their mother, Betty. Betty loses it and call Dan, and leaves him a wrathful message, with the children within earshot.
During the scheduled hearing, Betty decides not to show up because she’s still in denial about the divorce. You know the thing where someone will ignore something because they don’t want to believe it to be true. This is essentially what Betty is doing, and it won’t end well. While at the hearing, I find it unnerving that Dan is crummy with the judge. Although, Betty not showing up to the hearing is inexcusable and irresponsible, I don’t think she would have had a fair shot, since Dan has friends in high places and is equally an eminent attorney. Of course, Dan is granted a divorce while also retaining sole custody of their children. I’m petrified, yet interested to find out what Betty’s reaction will be at this point.
I think so far, my interest is piqued. From the way that Betty is behaving, I think she was driven off the deep-end. By no way am I condoning her murdering her husband, as I would never condone that. But, I just want to understand Betty and why she resorted to her actions. So far, I can deduce that Betty is acrimonious. She was married to Dan for so many years, had his four children, worked while he was in medical school and law school, then he decides to throw her away and divorce her. Why? Was is a mid-life crisis? Also, I have to put into consideration the different sides of Betty. Or maybe, Dan drove her into being this way. So many questions…I can’t wait to see what’s in store in episode 2.