Dirty John season 1 premiere recap: Approachable Dreams


Dirty John introduces us to the perfect con man in Bravo’s latest series.

Adapted from the wildly popular podcast of the same name, Dirty John, is immediately captivating. The premiere, “Approachable Dreams”, will probably scare off quite a few people from online dating forever. John Meehan is a talented conman and the series gives fans of the original series something to visualize when listening to the podcast. How did Debra fall Meehan? What made him so special? A few minutes into the premiere and it becomes alarmingly obvious how talented and dangerous he actually is.

Connie Britton plays Debra Newell, a successful working woman who’s taken to online dating to try and find love. Her co-workers immediately remark upon how she should be able to find a date without the internet. It’s probably something anyone who has tried online dating has heard from a friend or loved one. Nevertheless, Dirty John gives us a montage of terrible dates she endures before finally landing on John Meehan.

On the surface, he’s non-threatening and safe. John shows up to her apartment ready to go on the date in one of the most generic outfits of all time: a polo, cargo shorts, crew socks, and beat up sneakers. Debra’s elder daughter, Veronica (Vinyl‘s Juno Temple), immediately dislikes him but it’s easy to think this is for superficial reasons. She’s more concerned about getting to drive her mom’s Maserati than her date. Considering how everything turns out, Debra probably should’ve taken her warnings to heart.

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Played by Eric Bana, John is immediately captivating. He’s charismatic and charming with just a hint of the evil lurking underneath. On the date he regals Debra with stories from his work as a doctor before immediately trying to get her to open up. We learn he isn’t technically a doctor but an anesthesiologist. All-in-all the date is a success and the two head back to her apartment for a passionate make-out scene. However, Debra needs to cool down the situation so she takes a breather in the bathroom. When John makes a move, Debra decides it’s time to call it a night. He doesn’t take the news well and he storms out without another word.

Debra is confused and hurt but it doesn’t mean she’s any less interested. When John calls to apologize, she’s quick to forgive him and schedule another date. This goes without a hitch as well, with John spending the evening focusing on Debra and her kids. Instead of trying to pursue things further, he chooses to politely request a third date for later in the week.

Skipping to therapy the next day, Juno Temple steals the show as spoiled daughter Veronica. She calls John a “homeless frat guy” who is only a gold digger. Debra quickly disregards her daughter’s worries in favor of daydreaming about John. She’s smitten and really believes he could be the one. Veronica points out her mother has been married four times to quite a few creeps, which makes Debra a perfect target for someone like John.

DIRTY JOHN — “Approachable Dreams” Episode 101 — Pictured: Juno Temple as Veronica Newell — (Photo by: Jordin Althaus/Bravo)

After he spends the night and sneaks up on Veronica when she’s searching through her safe, tensions run high. Veronica confronts her mother about John, in front of him, which resolves nothing. At least she gets the perfect dramatic exit by shoving a plate of bananas onto the ground. Meanwhile, John continues to be the “perfect man” for Debra. Arriving at a cancer benefit late, he’s the life of the party despite still being in his scrubs.

When they return back to her apartment, she tells him about her previous marriages. While John is initially shocked by the realization (or pretending to be shocked), he takes the news well. In fact he tells her that he loves her. Dirty John treats us to another montage, but this time of the happy couple searching for a new house to move into. He mentions his child support and “insane tax issues” preventing him from renting the house for the two of them. Of course, Debra offers to but John says it’s too soon. She agrees but that doesn’t stop Debra from immediately renting the house.

Veronica is clearly the comedic relief of Dirty John, because it’s hard not to laugh while she’s dressed in a unicorn costume. Debra says she believes the two shouldn’t live together and it will be more helpful to their relationship. Veronica is immediately devastated but Debra assures her that she can stay in the apartment until the lease is up in five months. Now Debra lives alone with John, and the first stage of an emotionally toxic relationship begins. She’s isolated with a man with bad intentions, and we have to wonder who ends up in the hospital at the end of this story.

DIRTY JOHN — “Approachable Dreams” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Eric Bana as John Meehan, Connie Britton as Debra Newell — (Photo by: Jordin Althaus/Bravo)

We get our first glimpse of Debra’s younger daughter Terra (Julia Garner) as she’s walking with her boyfriend Jimmy (John Karna). They’re walking their dog and talking about why they want to be veterinarians. When they arrive at the new house, John is standoffish and rude. They’re early so he suggests they go walk their dog rather than invite them inside. Debra is so excited to see her youngest daughter but Terra seems a little less than enthusiastic.

Terra mysteriously injured her should but Debra takes the time to treat her. She’s on edge but the amount of John’s stuff covering the bathroom. When Debra begins excitedly listing all of the fun stuff the two can do together. Unfortunately, Terra says she’s already made plans to spend time with her sister. Debra tries to hide her disappointment, but Terra heads off anyways. At Ronnie’s the sisters catch up and talk about how creepy they find John.

DIRTY JOHN — “Approachable Dreams” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Eric Bana as John Meehan, Connie Britton as Debra Newell — (Photo by: Michael Becker/Bravo)

At the house, John is trying to get in between Debra and her kids. She succeeds when Terra goes snooping through the house to prove John is living there. Instead of fessing up about lying, Debra goes quiet until John comes back. He’s furious she went through his stuff but instead makes it seem like it was disrespectful towards her mother. When Debra doesn’t come to her defense, Terra and Jimmy decide to leave with the former crying.

The Newells all gather together for Thanksgiving but Terra is refusing to come. Veronica still decides to come because she finds this whole situation ridiculous.  Trey, Debra’s eldest son, is in attendance and also seems on edge about Terra’s departure. Meanwhile Debra’s mother, Arlane (Jean Smart), wants to give John a chance since he’s such a hard-working doctor. Of course, we learned earlier in this episode of Dirty John that he’s really a nurse but keeps telling people he’s a doctor.

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He does make an attempt to win over Veronica but she absolutely refuses. Nevertheless, Debra jets off to Vegas with John despite the rocky relationship with her kids. The two get married at a quickie wedding in Vegas without any family or friends. However, their happy marriage is interspersed with the patient who John had been treating. Turns out she had never gotten her anesthesia, however he marked down that she had. The poor woman is screaming in pain, and now we can add another thing to John’s list of crimes: stealing drugs!

What did you think of the Dirty John premiere? Be sure to tell us in the comments below!