movies, true crime

Repost: A review of A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story…

This is a review I wrote in March 2011 of the first of two made for television films starring Meredith Baxter and Stephen Collins as Betty and Dan Broderick. It appears here as/is.

From April 2014

Since I’m reading Betty Broderick’s story as told by her daughter, Kim, I’ve decided to repost the movie review I did of her life story.  I think I only reviewed the first film.  There were two done.  One was about how Betty Broderick ended up in prison and the other was about how she was convicted of murdering her husband and his second wife.  Naturally, this story is compelling to me, even though from what I can tell from other sources, the movie makes Dan Broderick seem too nice.  Of course, Stephen Collins portrayed him and I think Stephen Collins is kind of a boob, so there you go…

From March 2011

I just read Meredith Baxter’s bio, so I thought it would be fun to watch one of her many made-for-television movies.  It so happened that one of Baxter’s most notorious flicks, A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story, was uploaded in its entirety on YouTube.  Naturally, I had to watch it and see Meredith Baxter portray the infamous murderer Betty Broderick.  It was a role completely opposite of Baxter’s turn on the hit sit-com, Family Ties and it also satisfied my love of true crime films featuring psycho women.

Who is Betty Broderick? 

For sixteen years, Betty Broderick was the loyal wife of Dan Broderick, one of Southern California’s most prominent medical malpractice lawyers.  Raised a strict Catholic, Betty Broderick believed in marriage for life.  She reportedly worked very hard to raise the four children she had with Dan Broderick and give him a beautiful home.  She also reportedly worked hard so that he could attend both medical school and law school.  As both a physician and a lawyer, Dan Broderick was a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom.  By Betty Broderick’s rather hysterical account, he couldn’t have achieved that success without her.

Despite his brilliance in the courtroom, by many accounts, Dan Broderick was also a bit of a scumbag.  In the early 80s, he hired a beautiful blonde 21 year old named Linda Kolkena to work as his assistant at his law firm.  Despite the fact that Linda couldn’t type and had little experience, Dan paid her lavishly and it wasn’t long before they were having a very public affair. 

Betty Broderick evidently felt pushed aside as Dan reportedly fooled around with his young lover, but she wasn’t one to take such shenanigans lying down.  While Dan Broderick carried on with his girlfriend, Betty Broderick carried on with his personal property, setting fire to his clothes, smearing Boston Creme Pie all over their bed, and eventually driving a car into the front of Dan’s house.  Dan and Betty got divorced and Betty was served with many restraining orders, but Betty continued her harassment, breaking into his home, vandalizing his property, and attempting to alienate their children and mutual friends. 

When Dan and Linda eventually married, Betty Broderick completely snapped.  On the morning of November 5, 1989, she visited the newlyweds in their expensive home and shot them both as they slept, killing them.  After two trials, one of which ended in a hung jury, Betty Broderick was convicted of two counts of second degree murder.  By all reports I’ve read, she has yet to express any remorse.  Nevertheless, a lot of people feel Betty Broderick was perfectly justified in what she did and even today, she serves as sort of a role model/heroine to disenfranchised women.  She’s even been held up as an example in women’s shelters as someone who invested too much in a relationship.

The film version of the “war of the Brodericks”

A Woman Scorned was not originally aired on the Lifetime Movie Network, but it was destined to become a staple of that channel.  Stephen Collins (of 7th Heaven fame) portrays Dan Broderick, with Baxter playing his wife, Betty, and Michelle Johnson playing Linda Kolkena Broderick.  One interesting aspect of watching a film like A Woman Scorned on YouTube is that people leave comments.  Many people who had followed the Betty Broderick case claim that the film version made Dan Broderick out to be a much nicer guy than he actually was.  Some people also claimed that Linda Kolkena Broderick was, in real life, a “gold-digging hussy”. 

It’s true that the jerkier aspects of Dan Broderick seem to be tempered by Stephen Collins’ “nice guy” portrayal.  Even when he’s threatening to cut off Betty’s alimony for harassing him, he seems sympathetic.  While I don’t know the Brodericks personally, I’m guessing that the real Dan was probably much more of a cut-throat bastard with more of a killer instinct.  Most extremely successful malpractice attorneys are like that. 

I think Meredith Baxter was an excellent choice to play Betty Broderick.  She pulls off the over-the-top behavior of her character without a hitch.  Betty Broderick supposedly has narcissistic personality disorder.  If that’s the case, I think Baxter portrayed that type of person to a tee.  I almost cringed as her character set Dan Broderick’s wardrobe on fire on the front lawn of their swanky home and calmly said, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”  It was perfect.

I wasn’t as impressed with Michelle Johnson’s portrayal of Linda Kolkena Broderick.  She came off as too nice and lady like for the role.  I’m guessing the real Linda wasn’t as dignified as the film version of her was.

The Brodericks’ children are portrayed by Kelli Williams (Kate Broderick), Jandi Swanson (Debbie Broderick), Aaron Freeman (Grant Broderick), and Jordan Christopher Michael (Tommy Broderick).  The characters’ names have been changed from the real Broderick children’s names.  I suppose that was to protect their identities, though this case got a lot of coverage on Court TV and is widely written about on the Internet. 

My thoughts about Betty Broderick    

As much as I enjoyed A Woman Scorned, I certainly don’t condone Betty Broderick’s actions, even if the real Dan Broderick was a scumbag.  For one thing, despite her personal sacrifices to aid Dan Broderick’s career– a choice that she apparently made of her own free will– Betty Broderick comes off as a personality disordered individual.  Even if Dan Broderick cheated on her and dumped her for a younger woman, I could hardly blame him for doing so.  Both the true accounts I’ve read about this case and the dramatized film version of Betty Broderick make her out to be completely nuts.

For another thing, no matter how rotten Dan and his second wife Linda were to Betty, she had no right to take their lives!  When she killed Dan and Linda, Betty took away her children’s father and their home.  She also effectively took away their mother, since she was sentenced to 32 years to life in prison.  I do not applaud her crazy actions, though I have to admit they were entertaining to watch on television as portrayed by Meredith Baxter.  And in her memoir, Baxter admits that playing Betty Broderick was great fun; she initially had sympathy for her, but then learned more about who Betty Broderick is and supposedly changed her mind.

And finally, I wonder how people would react if Dan Broderick had been a woman named Danielle with a husband who had sacrificed everything for her career, only to be dumped by a younger, more handsome model.  I wonder if people would be so eager to champion the cause of a man scorned…   I doubt people would be justifying murder if Danielle Broderick had been killed at the hands of a jealous, vengeful husband.  Indeed, I bet a lot of people would be screaming that the jilted man should be locked up for life.  And indeed, that’s the punishment I think Betty Broderick deserves.  Scorned or not, she had absolutely no right to kill.

For kids?   

This is a made-for-TV movie circa 1992, so swearing and smut are somewhat kept to a minimum.  I doubt most kids would be interested in this film and some of the younger ones might be confused by it.  However, I don’t think it’s a bad film for older kids to see.  If anything, it might serve as a warning against getting too involved with personality disordered people.  It might make a good way to introduce a discussion about relationships with others and choosing the right person to be with.

Overall

Yes, A Woman Scorned is typical Lifetime movie fare, but it’s still a pretty good film.  I give it four stars.

Here are both parts of Betty’s story presented in made for TV form…

Part 1
Part 2

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musings

What’s on the “vagenda” today?

Last night, I watched a video by Mr. Atheist. I had seen his channel before, but I’m not sure I ever stopped to listen to any of his commentary. I couldn’t resist last night, though, because he did a video about The Transformed Wife, aka Lori Alexander. I have written about Ms. Alexander myself on more than one occasion. She’s a blogger and book author who vehemently condemns feminism.

Last year, Lori Alexander wrote an explosive blog post about how men prefer debt free virgins without tattoos. Her comments about debt free virgins spawned lots of rebuttal blog posts and videos, including one by yours truly. I would link to my comments about Lori’s assertion that American men prefer debt free virgins without tattoos, but my old blog is currently on lockdown (ETA: I have since reposted those posts and you can find them through the tags for Lori Alexander). She’s written similarly ridiculous articles that people pay too much attention to, like the time she opined that women doctors are “ruining the medical profession” for taking med school spots from men and not staying home to spawn children. I’m sure many people follow her simply to ridicule her, but she also has her supporters.

I don’t pay a lot of mind to Lori Alexander myself. I only read her most ludicrous posts, and generally only when someone else links them. I find her writing style annoying and her ideas insulting and embarrassing, so I don’t give her much quarter. However, some of the things she says and writes are just so stupid that I can’t help but laugh. And since today is a rainy Friday morning, I figured I’d share Mr. Atheist’s hilarious take on The Transformed Wife’s commentary on shows like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie. Are you ready for this, y’all? Lori Alexander condemns these two classic, family friendly shows from the 70s and 80s as promoting feminism!

WHAT?!

I enjoyed Mr. Atheist’s enthusiastic and entertaining comments on Lori Alexander’s comments about those nasty G rated TV shows of yore. I decided to subscribe to his channel. This morning, I’m listening to Mr. Atheist’s August video about Lori Alexander’s thoughts on birth control. She HATES it. She thinks everyone should be having huge families, even if they are not prepared to take care of children. She says children are “blessings from God”, and that before birth control, women knew that their purpose in life was to have children. Well jeez, I guess my life has been wasted.

So get down on your back, spread your legs, and get to babymaking, you childless JEZEBELS! (for the clueless, this is NOT what I actually believe)

Lori is also an anti-vaxxer, claiming that vaccines are FULL of toxic chemicals. It doesn’t surprise me that she says these things, since she is anti-education, especially for women. She seems to believe that a woman’s main purpose is to pump out babies and keep house. However, the science behind vaccinations is solid and has been around for centuries. Don’t want to take the newest ones that don’t have many decades of proven success in preventing communicable diseases? Alright. But children in 2019 should not be getting the measles and dying of encephalitis. Children of 2019 should not have to worry about deadly or crippling diseases like polio, rabies, whooping cough, or rubella. Children who cannot be vaccinated due to their age or health concerns should not have to worry about getting sick because they are exposed to unvaccinated children who have been exposed to communicable diseases that could have been prevented through immunization.

Anyway… although I didn’t take the time to listen to Lori Alexander’s videos, I like Mr. Atheist’s thoughts on her nonsense. I especially like him because he is an ex Mormon and ex Mormons are some of my favorite people. They’re usually brave, smart, and have good taste in books and music. On another note, Mr. Atheist apparently had some technical difficulties on the “birth control” video and Lori sounds kind of like Foamy the Squirrel of the “Neurotically Yours” cartoons. Check him out.

This is still a classic. I think Foamy’s thoughts on life are more valuable than Lori Alexander’s.

I also like that Mr. Atheist came up with the word, “vagenda”. I think I’m going to incorporate that into my daily language. I’ll take a minute to think about the parts of my body that make me female and create a “vagenda”… but my vagenda will not include vaginal steaming, because according to Dr. Jen Gunter OB-GYN, and author of The Vagina Bible, vaginal steaming is a waste of time and potentially dangerous. Yes… I will listen to Jen Gunter over Gwyneth Paltrow any day. And I will listen to voices of reason like Mr. Atheist over religious quacks like Lori Alexander any day. Check out Mr. Atheist’s YouTube channel if you have a chance. He’s pretty good, even if he does have a habit of over pronouncing words like “button” and “important”.

MOVING ON…

I’ve been on another one of my 7th Heaven kicks lately. I don’t know why, but I really get a charge out of watching that show, even though it also makes me want to throw things at the screen. 7th Heaven was supposed to be a Christian values family friendly kind of show. However, look at the cast and you’ll find that some of the actors have kind of headed in the direction of the Diff’rent Strokes cast. Stephen Collins, who played the annoyingly sanctimonious and irritating Revered Eric Camden, was outed as a pervert back in 2014.

Eeew.

I am now at the part of the series in which Revered Chandler Hampton, played by Jeremy London, shows up. His character is wholesome, wise, and handsome. And yet, he and his twin brother, Jason London, are also no strangers to law enforcement. Jeremy London was arrested for domestic violence and did some time in rehab. Jason London, who guest starred in an episode about the evils of smoking, got busted at a club, was arrested, and crapped his pants in the back of a police car.

But these incidents are not what is prompting commentary about 7th Heaven today. Back in 2000, Stephen Collins was still a very bankable actor, as well as a hack author (seriously, I read his horrible novels– definitely not RevCam material, but truly awful), and wannabe musician (Pat Boone’s record label released his warbling). Collins also did some acting for video games, notably for a game called Code Blue, which was developed by a company called Legacy Interactive. I happened to be a big fan of Legacy’s interactive video games pertaining to health care, and they had quite a few of them 20 years ago. At the time, I was in graduate school earning my master’s degrees in public health and social work. I found healthcare interesting, and since I had no social life, I would sometimes kill my free time by playing games on the computer.

Yesterday, I went searching for the game, Code Blue, which had so helpfully killed my limited free time in the year 2000. Lo and behold, I found someone’s uploaded video of Stephen Collins playing Dr. Matt Clark on Code Blue. You know who else was on that game? Ann Dowd! That’s right, Aunt Lydia of The Handmaid’s Tale was the nurse in that game! At first, I thought she was Felicity Huffman, mainly due to the hair. The late Kathryn Joosten, who was on Desperate Housewives, was also a player. I am impressed by the level of star power Legacy Interactive invited to this classic game.

Aunt Lydia and RevCam in a hospital setting!

I miss these kinds of games. I waste too much time and money on pay to play games these days. Even The Sims 4 isn’t doing it for me lately. And yes… although Collins wasn’t outed as a pervert back in 2000, I found him just as irritating and wooden on this video game as I did on 7th Heaven. But some people are so annoying they’re entertaining.

Here’s a link to Dr. Jen Gunter’s book, which I will probably purchase myself at some point.

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