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Dirty John is a true crime podcast based on the life of John Meehan, a con artist and sociopath. The podcast is hosted by Christopher Goffard and was created by Wondery and the Los Angeles Times. The first two chapters were launched on October 2, 2017; the following four chapters were released over the following days. The podcast was downloaded over 10 million times within six weeks of release. The title Dirty John is one of the nicknames John Meehan's classmates gave him during his time at the University of Dayton. Other nicknames from this time included "Filthy John" and "Filthy". The exact origin of these nicknames is never divulged during the podcast.
|Hosted by||Christopher Goffard|
|Audio format||Podcast (via streaming or downloadable MP3)|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8|
|Original release||October 2 (2-10) – October 8, 2017 (2017-10-08)|
|Website||Dirty John - Wondery|
Dirty John is a true crime podcast based on the life of John Meehan, a con artist and sociopath. The podcast is hosted by Christopher Goffard and was created by Wondery and the Los Angeles Times. The first two chapters were launched on October 2, 2017; the following four chapters were released over the following days. The podcast was downloaded over 10 million times within six weeks of release.
The title Dirty John is one of the nicknames John Meehan's classmates gave him during his time at the University of Dayton. Other nicknames from this time included "Filthy John" and "Filthy". The exact origin of these nicknames is never divulged during the podcast.
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.
The main focus of the story is Meehan's relationship with businesswoman Debra Newell, whom he met via an Internet dating site, as well as her immediate and extended family. The podcast deals with themes of abuse and manipulation, as well as the behaviours of those being abused.
Meehan was killed by Newell's youngest daughter Terra, who acted in self-defense when he tried to kill her on the rooftop parking lot of her apartment building on August 20, 2016. He was hospitalized and died on the 24th. The story was covered by Dateline NBC on January 12, 2018 and included interviews with Goffard.
|#||Title||Length (minutes:seconds)||Original release date|
|I||"The Real Thing"||40:33||October 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"||36:09||October 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"||46:43||October 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"||42:20||October 5, 2017 (2017-10-05)|
|Debra is in hiding, living out of hotels and disguising herself with a wig. She 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"||47:06||October 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 Debra's life is in danger. As her painful isolation from her family deepens, Debra secretly plans her escape from the marriage.|
|VI||"Terra"||40:35||October 8, 2017 (2017-10-08)|
|Debra's daughters, Jacquelyn and Terra, suspect John has been watching them. But, when Jacquelyn tells Debra that John is in town, her mother believes she is mistaken. Jacquelyn warns Terra to carry her pocket knife and to look out for cars matching John's rental. But Terra is preoccupied by a country music concert, and Jacquelyn's rough description has her watching for the wrong car.|
Dirty John proved to be very popular with audiences, and spent over three weeks at the top of the US iTunes podcast charts, whilst also topping the charts in Australia, Canada, and the UK and was downloaded over 5 million times in 3 weeks. It was downloaded over 10 million times within 6 weeks of release, and as of November 23, 2017, is the 6th most downloaded podcasts on iTunes America.
Critical reception was also positive, with the NME calling it "the best true crime podcast since Serial", whilst The Guardian listed Dirty John as their podcast pick of the week. Dirty John also received positive reviews from Mashable, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and The Daily Telegraph 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.