Fact vs fiction: How accurate was Netflix’s Dirty John season two?
Betty really did drive into Dan’s house
If you weren’t aware by now, Dirty John is largely based upon the real-life circumstances surrounding Betty Broderick and the murder that took place of her ex-husband and his new partner. After he severely gaslit her by accusing her of being delusional amidst his affair, their relationship got really messy and the series shows her go to several lengths to express her anger, such as driving into his new house, contemplating setting the old one alight and ultimately murdering Dan and Linda.
However, it’s easy to presume that the majority of the show will be fictionalised to make it more dramatic for our entertainment but, as it turns out, there’s plenty that Netflix got pretty spot on.
Dan lied to Betty for nearly two years about his affair
In the series, Betty suspects Dan to be having an affair with his receptionist and gets badly gaslit by him in the years to follow, but as it turns out he actually was having his affair from mid-1983 up until their divorce.
Linda was hired as his assistant regardless of the fact that she seemed wholly incapable and untrained for the job, while Dan continued to call Betty crazy despite picking up on facts like these. She even finds his office full of cake and wine on his birthday, indicating that he’s gone off with Linda to celebrate, but he still vehemently denies it and insists she is making things up.
All of their children’s names were changed in the Netflix version
In the Netflix series, the children are named Tracy, Jennifer, Ryan and Anthony. In reality, those names are Kim, Lee, Daniel and Rhett.
Betty really did drive her car into Dan’s front door to get his attention
At the start of the series, Betty is refused entry at Dan’s new place when she asks to see their children, so she rams her car into the front door. This actually happened in real life when she drove her car into the entrance of the house and ended up tearing the door from its hinges.
Then Dan uses his medical backing to have her sectioned as a psychiatric patient, but Betty still manages to break in shortly afterwards and throw cream pie around the bedroom, as well as spray paint the walls.
Dan’s house in the series is identical to real life
Now, this is weird. Looking at photos of Dan’s real house, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they filmed the Netflix series there, but you’d be wrong. Here’s the house that they used in the Netflix series, located at Toluca Lake in California:
And here’s Daniel Broderick’s real-life home where he was murdered with his partner Linda:
From the large posts at the front of the building to the window shutters to the small accent at the top of the doorway, the location scouts clearly smashed it out of the park when it came to finding this place.
Daniel charged Betty for her bad language
In the Netflix series, Betty gets threatened to have her child support payments docked by Dan. In real life, Dan agreed to give Betty $9,000 a month in living costs once they had broken up for her and their children, which was just a fraction of his $137,000 a month wage at the time.
Believing she was owed more, as well as enraged by his past actions, she left a load of rude voicemail messages for her ex-husband and his new partner. Dan, obviously as a manipulator as well as a lawyer, got custody of the children and then had to send her a warning to cut her payment.
This resulted in $100 docked for every swear word used, and $500 for every unauthorised visit of the children. One month she owed him $1500 for her behaviour.
Betty’s house doesn’t exist anymore so the filming location is totally different
In our filming locations article, we revealed that the scenes from Betty’s house were actually filmed in a completely different location. As part of a 2014 modernisation project in the area, the house was demolished to make way for newer homes.
The house the series was filmed in reportedly looks nothing like the real-life home Betty Broderick and her family used to live in.
This Dirty John Betty Broderick series is mad. Her husband gaslighted her and emotionally abused her for years, took her children away from her, got her committed, stopped her getting legal representation and everyone was surprised she killed him?! He literally drove her insane.
— Catherine Lux* (@luxlifeblog) August 14, 2020
THAT phone call with her son did actually happen
Remember that really weird and overbearing conversation that Betty has with her 11-year-old son Danny? She offloads her frustrations on him, even screaming expletives down the phone. According to Metro, the phone call in the series was almost word-for-word what was actually said in the real call, which was later used in court.
Her 11-year-old son tells her: “You guys are separated, mum. And he likes somebody else, he doesn’t like you anymore, and I mean, you gotta stop saying the bad words. You’re just making it harder for all of us, who wants to live over there. If you stop saying the bad words, everybody will be happier, at least I know I will.”
It’s uncertain whether her song knew that the call was being recorded, although in the Netflix series we do see Dan wiretap the phone to automatically record all calls.
Betty didn’t remain single once she split from Dan
According to the Los Angeles Times, Betty actually ended up getting into a new relationship with a man called Bradley T. Wright. A businessman and avid sailor, he described himself as her boyfriend: “Brad and Betty ate dinner and slept together frequently for years. At 7:30 on the morning of the murders, Brad was in bed at Betty’s home when he was awakened by the telephone.
“Diane Black spoke quickly: Betty had just called and said she had shot at Dan. She had considered committing suicide but ran out of bullets, Black told him. Brad contacted a neighbour – a longtime friend of Dan’s – and together they hurried to Marston Hills, rushed into the bedroom and found the blood-covered bodies.”
She denies any claims that they were intimate.
Betty genuinely did lose the case along with custody of her kids
The show constantly emphasises how Dan’s position makes it easier for him to make Betty’s life a lot harder for her, whether it’s getting her sectioned, gaslighting her or ending their divorce with one of the messiest divorce cases that America had ever seen. With the millions of dollars he was earning a year, the real Dan Broderick was just as hard to fight against than the semi-fictional one.
Betty’s side in the case was that he wouldn’t be where he was without her as a supportive partner and mother, whilst he argued he was solely self-made. After five years, the pair finally had a full divorce, but not without Dan sealing the court documents so that nobody could see what happened.
All we do know is that Dan got full custody of the four kids with no visitation rights for Betty from 1989. Then Dan marries Linda, and Betty shoots them both.