2017, Podcasts

Dirty John (2017)

This is a podcast about a con man and the women whose lives he tried to ruin. It is significantly different from basically all the crime podcasts I listen to, which are basically universally criminal justice exoneration podcasts.


It’s always good to try something different, so this podcast challenged me in terms of what I am used to listening to. There are good things about it but there are also some things about it that I found… I don’t know how else to put it: weird.

The story itself is less compelling than what I’m used to simply because the stakes are lower. When I watch true crime documentaries or TV, they almost always concern murder. This podcast – SPOILER ALERT – concerns fraud and assault. But I can understand why the story seemed so fascinating. I assume the reporter first found out about the story through its conclusion, and went back through time learning all these crazy things about John. 

John is a bonkers character but it’s hard to believe how much he got away with without serious consequences. This is a comment on the justice system, which doesn’t seem to know how to deal with serial fraudsters, or with men who psychologically manipulate (one might even say “gaslight”) women. 

I have a few weird misgivings about this podcast, or rather the people in it and how they are presented. Here are a couple:

  • A couple of people describe John as the most dangerous man they ever met. This makes sense from the family law lawyers, but when police officers describe him as such, it’s hard to understand, given what John did during his life. A better podcast might explore why people were so inclined to claim a man who had yet to commit any violent acts as “the most dangerous man I’ve ever met.”  It’s a fascinating psychological question which is never addressed.
  • The daughters don’t come off well in the show. I don’t know why specifically, whether it’s just them or whether it’s the way they are presented, the daughters, particularly the youngest, sound as if they are having trouble speaking and articulating. I get that some people are just uncomfortable around microphones but it’s odd that the mother comes across so natural and the daughters sound downright idiotic at times. (Maybe it’s asking to much here. Maybe I should be happy that they’re authentic rather than practiced.)

I have a hard time articulating exactly what my problem with the show was, but it finished and I was a little unsatisfied. I found that I had a bunch of psychological questions that were not addressed, whereas everything else felt like it was wrapped up in a neat little bow.

Not my favourite thing, but it was certainly interesting.


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