First there was the Los Angeles Times series of articles, then came the podcast — and now Dirty John is getting the Bravo treatment with Connie Britton and Eric Bana set to star in the lead roles. Set in Newport Beach (oh, you know, the home of The Real Housewives of Orange County), the dark series will take a new look at the toxic romance between Debra Newell (Connie) and the charismatic John Meehan (Eric).
When the actors and the brains behind the series gathered at the Television Critics Association press tour earlier this month, executive producer and writer Alexandra Cunningham opened up a bit about adapting the OC-set podcast for the small screen.
"That is where we start [in Newport Beach], because that's where the story starts. That's one of the things we're trying to do with this," she shared with reporters, before delving into the differences between the podcast and the upcoming series. "Like [executive producer/director] Jeff [Reiner] said, the podcast is a fantastic work of investigative journalism. And what we're trying to do, especially in the beginning of the show, is cast the spell that John casts over Debra. And we're trying to include the audience in that. We're trying to sweep them off their feet the way John swept Debra off her feet."
Then, Alexandra addressed something about the series' leading lady: "One of the things that pains me the most is when people talk about 'How could Debra be so stupid?' And I actually think that that's a defense mechanism by people when they say that about Debra, because they like to believe that this wouldn't happen to them, and I know for a fact that it would. Because if somebody wants to do this to you and they're focused on you and they're taking everything that you believe is good about yourself and using it against you, they're going to get you the way John got Debra. Because Debra was a hopeful and generous and kind person looking for somebody to recognize that in her, and John took that, and we all know where it ended, so yeah."
For Connie, the story really comes down to the power of family. "And on that note, too, you know, I think we also have a great opportunity because we have three generations of women being represented in this story. And so inasmuch as we do say, 'How could she fall for that guy?', we can actually explore the familial history, the cultural history that impacts her generationally and otherwise, that — that is why she is available for him."
Check out more from Connie, below.