I watched Lifetime’s ripped-from-the-mouth-of-Nancy-Grace-circa-2015 murder scandal Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret at the behest of my favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder. (Much like comedian Karen Kilgariff, I too felt that incessant media coverage was enough, but I was wrong!)
In 2008 Jodi Arias murdered Travis Alexander in his own home. The two had a contentious, emotionally abusive relationship. Arias was known to be obsessive, abusive, and controlling. In what would both delight and infuriate Lt. Joe Kenda, she was outstandingly dumb in her efforts to hide evidence, which will surprise literally no one. (Much like the Casey Anthony trial, Arias suddenly pulled out a bunch of outlandish excuses during the trial.)
In many ways, Dirty Little Secret is a formulaic Lifetime movie. It opens with the crime, backpedals to the events leading to the crime, and closes with a trial. Because Dirty Little Secret was purchased before the trial began, most of the film—seriously, pretty much the whole film—chronicles the worst parts of Jodi Arias’s relationship with Travis Alexander. The whole affair is sordid and cheap, and yet, Dirty Little Secret plays with no irony of sleaze. Tania Ramonde, playing Arias, and Jesse Lee Sofer, who plays Alexander, give dedicated performances. It’s an odd twist that the film is respectful to the story and the victim. It makes one wonder why Lifetime couldn’t bring the same depth to Liz & Dick.
The film doesn’t feel particularly rushed, either, until the end. Having survived the grueling trial-by-media, it’s disappointing how quickly the film rushes through the trial. (I thought I would be relieved.) The film’s other failing—who was Arias before she met Alexander—is as present in the real world as they are within the Lifetime universe, and not the fault of the film.
Overall, there are worse true crime TV movies with which to while away a few hours.