The Handbook
The Handbook

I’ve been on another binge. This time, not flaunting Department of Health guidelines on alcohol consumption but, rather, the other sort of binging: hitting the Netflix hard. And that’s not surprising given that their latest hit, Dirty John, has just dropped and believe me, you’re going to be obsessed with it.

Ted Bundy’s old news, Fyre Festival might as well have happed in Victorian times, there’s a new series on the block and it’s bloody good. Here’s why you should watch it (minor spoilers may follow, but nothing you won’t learn from the trailer)…

It’s Utterly Compelling

The eight-parter tells the story of Debra Newell, the businesswoman who fell for a charming guy off of the internet who, it turns out, was also a highly dangerous con-man. The clean-cut doctor, John Mehan, had served with Médecins Sans Frontières in Iraq, where he’d been wounded by shrapnel, was the perfect match for the self-made millionaire interior designer. He was loving, charming, great with people, funny and he saved lives for a living. Except almost everything he’d told her turned out to be totally untrue. After a whirlwind romance that saw them move in together and marry within weeks, things started to take a dark turn.

It’ll Scare The Hell Out Of You

We’re teased in the very opening scene that this is going to end badly, as the camera skirts a bloody, as-yet unidentified, body. Skip back a year to Newell meeting her online date and within minutes we’re getting bad vibes about him. Her family quickly take against John, but blinded by love Newell, desperate to make this, her fifth marriage, work, trusts her wayward instincts and one of America’s worst con-men.

As a viewer it’s impossible not to be chilled by John Mehan, he’s controlling, violent, abusive and yet charming and suave. As the series progresses, his previous relationships and experiences are woven into the story, and if you’ve ever internet dated then you’re going to start having nightmares.

It’s got Connie Britton In It

Whether you’ve got fond memories of Connie Britton as Coach Taylor’s wife in Friday Night Lights, or were besotted with her as country music legend Rayna Jaymes in Nashville, it’s impossible not to fall under her spell. Having impressed us with her bit-part as Faye Resnick in OJ trial miniseries The People vs OJ Simpson (alongside Cuba Gooding Jr, John Travolta and Ross-from-Friends), she’s back playing another West Coast naive, this time as Debra Newell. And she plays the part perfectly.

Of course she’s got great back-up, Eric Bana co-stars as John Mehan with unerring menace, while Newell’s daughter Veronica (in real life called Jaqueline) absolutely steals the show, acted by Juno Temple.

There’s, Like, SO Many Twists

Each episode comes with its own set of twists, culminating in a final series twist that had me quite literally on the edge of the sofa. I shan’t spoil it, but I did watch the entire 8-parts in 24 hours.

It’s Totally True

The kicker is that everything’s totally true. Based on a Los Angeles Times true-crime podcast covering the case, the plot is pretty faithful to reality, and in fact has to leave some elements out simply to make space. Knowing that all this really happened makes it all the more chilling, and all the more fun Googling the story afterwards.

Your work day is around 8 hours long, right? So slip on some headphones, pop Netflix up on your phone and binge watch this series right now, at your desk. Your boss will 100% understand. The only problem is that you’ll spend the rest of the week secretly wondering if your partner is really a sociopath…

Check out Dirty John on Netflix