Executive Alexandra Cunningham previews the upcoming Bravo true crime saga, premiering in late fall, for EW

By David Canfield
August 24, 2018 at 12:54 PM EDT

There’s nothing quite like your first (obsessive, deceitful, deadly) love. Or so it goes on Dirty John, Bravo’s true-crime saga based on Christopher Goffard’s breakout 2017 podcast. The audio hit traced a doomed Orange County, Calif., romance between Debra, a lonely businesswoman and mother, and John, a dashing but dangerous mystery man she meets online.

Nicole Wilder/Bravo

Series creator Alexandra Cunningham is among the 26 million people who have downloaded the podcast, and she jumped at the chance to adapt it when the opportunity was offered to her late last year. She was inspired by her time as a writer and consulting producer on Bates Motel. “It was a great example of taking a story that everyone’s familiar with and really going into the psychology of it,” she says of the Psycho-inspired A&E drama. “I’d love to think that I’m doing even a fraction of what they did.”

Leading the Dirty John cast are Connie Britton and Eric Bana. For Cunningham, Britton was exactly who she envisioned as Debra. “They both have the most amazing hair in the universe,” the creator cracks. “Connie is the actress that you think of when you want to tap into the headspace of intelligent women on screen.” Cunningham hopes Britton’s work — and the storytelling — quiets the podcast listeners who’ve considered Debra “stupid” for falling under John’s spell. “He goes to church with her, he loves that she’s a mom,” says Cunningham. “I want to show what that’s like—when John, in the body of Eric Bana, turns his eye upon you and is like, ‘You’re a goddess.'”

The series has already been renewed for season 2, but Cunningham confirms the first is closed-ended. So what will be Dirty John‘s through-line? “The nature of manipulated love is a great seed,” she teases. “Lord knows there’s been many horrific crimes committed in the name of that.”

Dirty John premieres on Bravo in late fall. Check out an exclusive first-look still from the series above.