Dirty John Is Your Next Must-Listen Podcast

Another podcast to remind you that fact is stranger than fiction
Another podcast to remind you that fact is stranger than fiction

Welcome to True Crime Tuesday where we review, recommend and generally obsess over everything crime-related.

Ever since This American Life released Serial, a podcast investigating the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, it’s been clear that true crime and podcasts are meant for each other. Since then, the list of podcasts in the true crime genre has grown by the hundreds including the extremely popular My Favorite Murder, Sword and Scale, and S-Town. The latest phenomenon for true crime lovers is the short-but-riveting Dirty John.

Produced by the LA Times and Wondery, Dirty John is the story of Debra Newell, a single mother and successful business woman who starts a relationship with a man named John Meehan. John seems like the perfect guy at first: good looking, attentive, and a doctor. But a couple of Debra’s children aren’t as taken by him as she is. The red flags build up and as Debra finds out more about the man who definitely isn’t who he claims to be.

LA Times reporter Christopher Goffard narrates the story, interviewing everyone from Debra, her mother, and her daughters to John Meehan’s sister and ex-wife. He looks into Meehan’s background and reveals how he got to where his is and considers why Debra Newell is so susceptible to his charms. The ending of the 6-part series is expected and surprising at the same time, and you’ll be left wondering how any of it happened at all.

Dirty John is about psychological abuse and how a con artist does what he does. It also reveals the limitations of the law in protecting victims from their abusers. It’s the classic, “well, he has to do something before we can get involved,” response that people get when they try to get ahead of what someone may or may not be capable of.

For the true crime fan, Dirty John has all the elements: a story that is so unbelievable, it seems like fiction, a backstory that attempts to explain the actions of the key players, and red flags that seem obvious in retrospect. The difference is, there is a clear ending. There’s no room for theories and speculation. In the end, we know exactly what happened.

The six episodes add up to less than six hours, so you could finish the entire thing in a week’s worth of commutes. Goffard wrote a six-part series on the story as well, published by the LA Times, so any details that were left out of the podcast can be found there. All episodes have been released as of October 8th, so add Dirty John to your binge-listening queue asap.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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