Dirty John

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'Dirty John'
File:Dirty John Podcast Logo.jpeg
Presentation
Hosted by Christopher Goffard
Genre
  • Investigative journalism
  • Serialized audio narrative
  • True Crime
Language English
Production
Production
  • Karen Lowe
  • Jeffrey Glazer
  • Hernan Lopez
Audio format Podcast (via streaming or downloadable MP3)
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 6
Publication
Website Dirty John - Wondery

Dirty John is an investigative journalism podcast hosted by journalist Christopher Goffard and created by Wondery and Los Angeles Times. The first two chapters were launched on October 2, 2017, with the following four chapters being released over the following days. The podcast was downloaded over 10 million times within 6 weeks of release.[1]

Title[edit | edit source]

The podcast was named Dirty John which was one of John Meehan's nicknames given to him by his classmates during his time at the University of Dayton. Other nicknames from this time included Filthy John, or just Filthy. The exact nexus of these nicknames was never divulged during the podcast.[2]

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Dirty John is a true crime story focusing on the life and exploits of John Meehan. L.A. Times Journalist Christopher Goffard first heard of Meehan when he learned that the police were investigating a possible murder in Newport Beach. Upon investigating, Goffard discovered a bizarre web of deceit and abuse.[3]

The main focus of the story is Meehan's relationship with businesswoman Debra Newell, who he met via Internet dating, as well her immediate and extended family. The podcast deals with themes of abuse and manipulation, as well as the behaviours of those being abused.[4]

Persons involved[edit | edit source]

  • Christopher Goffard - The host, a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist.
  • John Meehan - The titular 'Dirty John'
  • Debra Newell - A successful businesswoman looking for love online
  • Jacquelyn Newell - Debra's oldest daughter
  • Terra Newell - Debra's youngest daughter
  • Cash - Terra's dog, a miniature Australian Shepherd
  • Shad Vickers - Debra's nephew, the son of her late sister Cindi
  • John Dzialo - Attorney
  • Tonia Sells - John's first wife

Episodes[edit | edit source]

# Title Length (minutes:seconds) Original release date
I"The Real Thing"40:33October 2, 2017 (2017-10-02)
Debra Newell, an interior designer in Southern California, meets John Meehan on an over-50 dating site. His profile looks exciting: Anesthesiologist, divorced, Christian. She falls in love fast. But her children dislike him and warn her that his stories don’t add up.
II"Newlyweds"36:09October 2, 2017 (2017-10-02)
After an intruder appears in John and Debra’s livingroom, John insists that they install security cameras. Debra begins to wonder whether he is spying on her. Her nephew, Shad, looks into John’s background and confronts him with what he finds. Debra’s vision of an idyllic marriage is shattered when she discovers a stash of paperwork in John’s home office.
III"Filthy"46:43October 4, 2017 (2017-10-04)
Debra grapples with the question, “Who did I marry?” The story of John’s mysterious past unfolds through the eyes of his sisters, his law-school housemate, his ex-wife, and an Ohio cop who hunted him. The origins of John’s nickname are revealed. Bed-ridden in an Orange County hospital, he pleads with Debra to take him back.
IV"Forgiveness"42:20October 5, 2017 (2017-10-05)
Debra is in hiding, living out of hotels and disguising herself with a wig. Debra fears she will meet the fate of her sister Cindi, who was killed by her husband as she tried to escape a bad marriage. John has explanations for the accusations against him. He weeps and apologizes. Three decades earlier, that had helped Cindi’s killer walk out of prison.
V"Escape"47:06October 7, 2017 (2017-10-07)
John finds a lawyer and plots to unleash a blizzard of lawsuits against his enemies, with the aim of proving to Debra that he is the victim, in case after case. The lawyer believes her life is in danger. As her painful isolation from her family deepens, she secretly plans her escape from the marriage.
VI"Terra"40:35October 8, 2017 (2017-10-08)
Jacquelyn and Terra Newell suspect that John has been watching them. When Jacquelyn tells her mother that he is in town, her mother believes she is mistaken. Jacquelyn warns Terra to carry her pocket knife. But Terra is preoccupied by a country-music concert, and she is watching for the wrong car.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Dirty John proved to be very popular with audiences, spending over three weeks at the top of the US iTunes podcast charts,[5] whilst also topping the charts in Australia,[6] Canada,[7] and the UK [8] and was downloaded over 5 million times in 3 weeks.[9] Dirty John would have continued success having been downloaded over 10 million times within 6 weeks of release,[10] and as of November 23, 2017 is 6th most downloaded podcasts on iTunes America.[11]

Critical reception was also positive, with the NME calling it "the best true crime podcast since Serial",[12] whilst The Guardian listed Dirty John as their podcast pick of the week.[13] Dirty John also received positive reviews from Mashable,[14] The New Yorker,[15] Rolling Stone[16] and The Daily Telegraph[17] amongst others.

Vulture.com meanwhile praised the story as "stunning" but questioned the necessity of using a podcast as a way to share the story.[18]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "The Creator Of True Crime Podcast 'Dirty John' Is Coming To Australia". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  2. "Dirty John Part 3: Filthy - Lon Angeles Times". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  3. "'Dirty John': Inside Hit 'L.A. Times' Podcast". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  4. "Dirty John, your chilling new true crime obsession – podcasts of the week". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  5. "L.A. Times - Wondery - 'Dirty John' American iTunes Chart Performance". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  6. "L.A. Times - Wondery - 'Dirty John' Australian iTunes Chart Performance". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  7. "L.A. Times - Wondery - 'Dirty John' Canadian iTunes Chart Performance". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  8. "L.A. Times - Wondery - 'Dirty John' British iTunes Chart Performance". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  9. "Dirty John: the hit podcast changing our queasy relationship with true crime". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  10. "The Creator Of True Crime Podcast 'Dirty John' Is Coming To Australia". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  11. "Podcasts Top Entries - Wednesday, 22nd". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  12. "Liked 'Serial'? Try 'Dirty John', your new true crime podcast fix". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  13. "Dirty John, your chilling new true crime obsession – podcasts of the week". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  14. "The insane true story of 'Dirty John' is your next podcast obsession". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  15. ""Dirty John": Journalism as Noir Entertainment". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  16. "'Dirty John': Inside Hit 'L.A. Times' Podcast". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  17. "Dirty John: the hit podcast changing our queasy relationship with true crime". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  18. "Dirty John Is a Stunning Story, But Why Is It a Podcast?". Retrieved November 23, 2017. 

External Links[edit | edit source]