Netflix’s ‘Dirty John‘ is an anthology series like no other. Set in Southern California, it chronicles the raw and harrowing accounts of those whose love went wrong. So, of course, its second season, ‘The Betty Broderick Story,’ is no different. Starring Amanda Peet as the titular character, the series delves into the destructive and murderous path Betty embraces after her seemingly cherishing and successful husband, Dan (Christian Slater), leaves her for his secretary, Linda Kolkena (Rachel Keller). Now, if you’re curious to know the details regarding whether this brutal and heartbreaking tale is based on an actual story, we’ve got you covered!
Is Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Based on a True Story?
Yes, ‘Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story’ is based on a true story. Born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York, Elisabeth “Betty” Anne Bisceglia Broderick met her future husband, Daniel “Dan” T. Broderick III, when she was just 17. She was visiting Indiana, the University of Notre Dame, for the football weekend and having a good time as Dan introduced himself to her. Hailing from similar Catholic families, all of their dreams and aspirations for their future seemed to align. Thus, four years later, on April 12, 1969, they tied the knot at the Immaculate Conception Church in Westchester County, New York.
Betty and Dan went on to have two daughters and two sons, not including their other unnamed boy, who lived for only four days. As depicted on the show, during the initial years of their marriage, Dan earned his medical degree from Cornell School of Medicine before deciding to pursue a law degree from Harvard Law School, while Betty supported the family. She did so by working long-drawn hours despite also dealing with her pregnancies, toddlers, miscarriages, and the death of their son. We should also mention that their kids’ names have been renamed on the show for privacy reasons.
The couple relocated to California in 1973, where a big law firm soon hired Dan. He rose through the ranks to become a thriving medical malpractice lawyer in no time and eventually established his own practice in 1978. For a while, Betty and her husband had it all. They not only belonged to a pair of celebrated country clubs and had properties in Colorado, but their four children went to prestigious private schools and had glittering social lives as well. All of it was just as ‘Dirty John’ highlights, just with a bit of over-dramatization for entertainment purposes.
It was in 1982 that Betty and Dan Broderick’s picture-perfect relationship began to unravel. That’s the year that Dan hired Linda Kolkena, a 21-year-old former flight attendant, to be his assistant. Over a year later, Betty began suspecting an affair. While he denied it at first, every time she saw her husband and his secretary together, Betty knew something was going on. Dan called her crazy and gaslit her, and she acted out. In fact, Betty really did set his European custom suits on fire in their backyard out of anger and left each of their children at his doorstep after their separation.
Moreover, starting from 1985, after Dan filed for divorce and Linda moved in with him – into what was once Betty’s family’s home – she continuously harassed and threatened them. Dan even went as far as to get protective orders to keep Betty away, but it didn’t work. Then, when the new couple shifted to a different place, and Betty learned that her husband had gone behind her back to resolve some settlement issues in court, without her, she drove her car into their front door as their children were inside. Dan later used this incident to win sole custody.
The fines, public humiliation, and rumors only fueled Betty’s rage — she could not think, let alone talk, about anything else but her divorce. Ultimately, following a four-year-long bitter legal dispute, Dan, a prominent lawyer who called himself “The Count du Money,” got most of what he desired. Once everything was finalized for good by the court in January 1989, he married Linda in April. Due to the constant gaslighting by Dan and all the mental trauma the legal ordeal inflicted upon Betty, she was becoming increasingly violent and hostile towards the newlyweds.
Observing Betty’s continuing erratic behavior, though, Linda feared that their lives were in danger, simply for it to be realized seven months later. As per the Los Angeles Times, Linda was scared to death of her partner’s ex-wife, but nothing was done until it was too late. After all, on November 5, 1989, Betty trespassed onto the Brodericks’ estate and killed the couple in their bed — shooting Dan once and Linda twice. She’d received a notice from Dan warning her about pressing charges for the endless harassment a day before and had hoped to talk to him about it. Yet, she perpetrated a double homicide instead. Presently, Betty Broderick is serving a sentence of 32 years to life behind bars.
Read More: Where Are Betty Broderick’s Children Now?