Is Bravo’s ‘Dirty John’ Based on ‘RHOC’s’ Vicki Gunvalson’s Relationship With Brooks?

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Is art imitating life or the other way around when it comes to Bravo’s scripted drama, Dirty John? The true crime miniseries debuted with a bang leading viewers down the primrose path of secrecy, intrigue and (possibly) murder.

Minutes before the series launch, The Real Housewives of Orange County met for the first reunion installment. Host Andy Cohen turns to Vicki Gunvalson and says a viewer says the Dirty John trailer appears like it could be based on Vicki’s relationship with former boyfriend, Brooks Ayers. “100%,” Vicki responds. She adds her daughter (Briana) warned her about Brooks, but Vicki ignored it. “When you are in it, you can’t listen to other people,” she adds.

Andy establishes that Brooks is not a murderer. But Vicki says, “He murdered my self-esteem and my pocketbook. And I’m going after him.” Although Dirty John is not based on Vicki and Brooks, but instead about another Orange County women who got rooked by a dangerous man, there are some crazy similarities. So how are John and Debra from Dirty John like Vicki and Brooks from RHOC?

Both men came in hot and fast

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@vickigunvalson & Briana glam for the Season 12 wrapping party

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John makes the moves pretty fast in Dirty John, suggesting he and Debra become intimate on a first date. He also worms his way into staying over at her house in a matter of weeks. Plus the couple makes it official in only a few months.

While Vicki would have married Brooks, her relationship still moved pretty fast. In fact, her daughter Briana claims to have read texts between the two long before Vicki introduced him to her friends and family.  “He’s been around for a long time,” Briana reveals during a RHOC reunion, E News reports. “She’d go to the bathroom and [a text ] would pop up: Brooks Ayers, Happy Thanksgiving…I just want you to own it.” Brooks was staying with Vicki, vacationing with her friends and eventually moved in.

Life would be better without those kids

All of the children are onto the con men in both scenarios. In fact, Brooks drove a wedge between Vicki’s relationship with her daughter for some time. Briana accused Brooks of suggesting to her husband that he should beat her to keep her in line. Once Brooks moved into Vicki’s home, Briana refused to stay in the home with her children.

Like Briana, Debra’s daughters, Terra and Veronica, aren’t buying what John is selling. Debra’s daughters can tell something isn’t right with John, the minute they meet him. And like Vicki, Debra seems to side with John, suggesting Veronica remain in a condo with only a few months of paid rent, while she moves out with John. And telling Terra to spend Thanksgiving elsewhere when she catches her rummaging through John’s personal belongings.

Money? I have tons but not right now

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Season 7 Vicki vs Tamra Part 2

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John is “supposed to be” an anesthesiologist, but it is curious that he can’t afford to rent a new place when he and Debra go house hunting. Rather than seeing that as a red flag, Debra plunks down a year’s worth of rent and happily moves in with John. He also shows up at a black tie event in a scrubs shirt and baggy grey sweatpants. He claims he “had to work” but do doctors really wear sweats in the OR?

Brooks also portrayed himself as a “successful” businessman but is knee deep in back child support and haunted by a DUI from 2005. He recently (shockingly) landed a job at a medical supply company, Radar Online reports. The medical supply company asserts Brooks worked for a bank after graduating from college. And worked for a number of healthcare companies to boost revenue streams.

Lies and more lies

Brooks’ new job is even more startling considering he faked cancer. Brooks told Vicki and the RHOC cast he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and took the entire show on a wild ride. Cracks began to show in his story when the ladies tried to offer help but then discovered a tangled web of lies. Eventually, when Brooks was busted for faking cancer documents, the couple split. But Vicki said to the group during a reunion show, “You guys didn’t know him the way I knew him, There was a point in time where I really felt he had my back and he really was a great guy. It’s been an evolution of emotions. And I really thought he was my soulmate.”

Although Dirty John is only one show in, viewers can tell something isn’t right with John. Scenes, where John is meeting with patients, seem murky. And when the patient is in pain, another nurse, not John is treating her. In addition to showing up at a charity event in sweats, Terra discovers a diploma that states John is a nurse and not a doctor. Instead of questioning John, Debra bounces Terra from Thanksgiving.

Jill Zarin from The Real Housewives of New York City summed it up in a tweet, “Smart women can make bad choices. Always listen to family when they meet someone you might want to get serious with before making a permanent commitment.”

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