Dirty John: The Dirty Truth is a new documentary on Netflix. It originally aired on Oxygen and shows the real story of John Meehan. It’s hard to believe, but the truth is even crazier than the dramatized TV series on Netflix.

Dirty John: The Dirty Truth is a new documentary out on Netflix now. It might not be out in the US yet since it originally aired on Oxygen. But it should be out in practically every other country.

This documentary shows the real story of John Meehan. We get interviews with the real Debra Newell and Terra Newell as well as Jacquelyn Newell. Her name was changed to Veronica (or “Ronnie”) in the Dirty John series and she is incognito while being interviewed for the documentary.

Recommended reading: Our review of the TV series Dirty John which covers this exact same true story >

When you hear the full story through interviews with all the people from the TV series (and then some), you will be blown away. I never thought I’d say this after watching Dirty John, but the truth is actually at least as crazy as the dramatized Bravo TV series on Netflix.

Watch the TV series before the documentary

For me, watching this Dirty John: The Dirty Truth documentary after watching the TV series was just perfect. Not only does it feel like bonus content from a Blu-ray release, but it also has a distinct “behind the scenes”-feel to it.

But, of course, this documentary is the real deal and the TV series was dramatized. Except, when you watch the series you might feel like they must have exaggerated. Then, when you watch this documentary, you realize they did not. At all!

John Meehan did everything shown and described in the Dirty John TV series from Bravo. And this Oxygen produced documentary shows us that he did even more! There’s a famous Brazilian author, who also fell victim to his predatory ways. She is – of course – a multi-millionaire and he almost managed to get 37 million dollars from her.

Also, you should know that not only does the Newell family participate in Dirty John: The Dirty Truth, his first wife and his two daughters are also interviewed and speak very honest and frankly about John Meehan.

Furthermore, we have interviews with several police officers and even more of John Meehan’s former girlfriends/victims.

Julia Garner, I apologize unconditionally!

My one main critique of the Dirty John TV series was Julia Garner’s choices regarding her character. Specifically her voice, which had a distinct “sexy baby” tone to it. Now, I realize that I should have known that this brilliant actress – whom I adore from Ozark and Waco – knew exactly what she was doing.

Julia Garner portrayed Terra Newell in the series, and as soon as you hear the real Terra Newell speak in Dirty John: The Dirty Truth, it all makes sense. She does, in fact, speak with this soft and almost meek voice that is often dubbed “sexy baby”. The irony of it all is the fact that Terra Newell is a total badass who ends up the absolute hero and savior!

This just goes to show, you can’t judge a book by its cover – or a person by their voice. I apologize unconditionally for doubting Julia Garner and salute the real Terra Newell for doing what needed to be done.

For the record, Connie Britton and Juno Temple also managed to create pretty damn perfect portrayals of Debra Newell and Jacquelyn/Veronica.

Watch Dirty John: The Dirty Truth on Netflix or Oxygen

The documentary was directed by Sara Mast, who I hope will make a lot more documentaries. To me, she managed to create a timeline and portrait that was easily digested. Even if I was shocked that fact seemed to trump fiction again and again!

Since Dirty John: The Dirty Truth was originally on Oxygen, it was shown with commercial breaks. This becomes both very obvious and pretty annoying when you watch it as a non-stop documentary on Netflix.

We have the repeat scenes over and over again since they clearly played right before and after a commercial break on Oxygen. It doesn’t ruin the content of the documentary, but it does get tiring so I felt the need to mention this. Maybe if you know this is part of it, you won’t get as irritated as I did.

The fact that this documentary about John Meehan was originally on Oxygen, is probably also why Netflix doesn’t have it in the US. Just like the Dirty John TV series (which aired on Bravo), this new documentary is “only” out in virtually all other regions besides the US.

No matter how you might be able to watch this, you really should watch it. Director Sara Mast has created a very complete look at this very vast true story.

Dirty John: The Dirty Truth is out on Netflix from February 26, 2019. 


Interviews with former girlfriends, ex-wives and police detectives detail the chilling decades-long criminal career of serial predator John Meehan.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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