Peacock’s A Friend Of The Family is inspired by the harrowing true story of the Broberg family and the multiple kidnappings of their young daughter, Jan. Here’s everything you need to know about the new series.
In the world of true crime documentaries, there are some cases that linger with fans of the genre long after finding out about them.
One of the more recent memorable ones being Abducted In Plain Sight, a 2017 film that garnered massive attention, not least because of its truly confusing subject matter. It explored the case of 12-year-old Jan Broberg, who was kidnapped by a trusted neighbour and close friend of the family’s, Robert Berchtold. The story is already sinister and disgusting but it notches up tenfold once we learn that Berchtold abducted Jan not once, but twice.
The film, which is directed by Girl In The Picture’s Skye Borgman, is still one of the wildest true crime documentaries we’ve watched and it also explores Jan’s own parents’ involvement. Lest we forget the affairs that Jan’s parents, Mary Anne and Bob Broberg, had with Berchtold – the documentary being the first time that Bob publicly confessed to having his own romantic encounter with his daughter’s kidnapper.
Like we said, wild. Well, the very same case is now getting the TV series treatment and we couldn’t be more excited. Following the same suit as recent true crime dramas like The Staircase, Black Bird and Under The Banner Of Heaven, A Friend Of The Family – which is also produced by Jan and Mary Ann – is set to explore the case from a chilling new perspective.
Here’s everything you need to know about A Friend Of The Family.
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What is the plot of A Friend Of The Family?
The new drama is inspired by the true story of the Broberg family, whose daughter Jan was kidnapped multiple times over a few years by a charismatic, obsessed family “friend”.
As the synopsis says: “The Broberg’s – devoted to their faith, family, and community – were utterly unprepared for the sophisticated tactics their neighbour used to exploit their vulnerabilities, drive them apart and turn their daughter against them. This is the story of how their lives were permanently altered – and how they survived.”
As previously mentioned, the case was the focus of Netflix’s Abducted In Plain Sight, so if you’re unfamiliar with the case, we suggest streaming the documentary immediately. A Friend Of The Family comes from showrunner and writer Nick Antosca, who is known for his work on equally chilling series Candy and The Act. It’s safe to say, then, that this drama will be a stellar one. It’s also being produced by the Broberg’s – Jan and her mother, Mary Ann – themselves.
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Who will star in A Friend Of The Family?
The cast of the drama is full of familiar faces and is led by Jake Lacy (The White Lotus) who stars as Robert “B” Berchtold, a charming local businessman who, according to the synopsis, “appears to be a genial Mormon father and husband. An expert in manipulation, he puts everyone around him at ease as he carefully plots the abduction of Mary Ann’s daughter”. Lio Tipton (The Edge Of Sleep) also stars as Robert’s wife Gail.
Anna Paquin (Flack) stars as Jan’s mother Mary Ann and Colin Hanks (The Offer) stars as Jan’s father Bob, while a young Jan is played by Hendrix Yancey (George & Tammy) and the older version of Jan is played by McKenna Grace (The Handmaid’s Tale).
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Is there a trailer for A Friend Of The Family?
There is, and if reading about the case itself wasn’t enough to send shivers down your spine, the new teaser trailer most certainly will.
In it, we get a glimpse of the initially idyllic life of the Broberg’s before their new neighbours move in just two houses away. The Berchtolds are cheery and friendly, but as we see stolen glances between Robert and Jan, we start to get an insight into how Robert really is beneath his façade. “He gets these impulsive moods,” his wife tells Mary Ann.
As we see Robert drive away with Jan sleeping in his car, in a separate chilling scene, Bob is resounded to saying at the Broberg family dinner table: “They were supposed to be back some time ago.”
Watch the trailer here:
What have the Broberg’s said about A Friend Of The Family?
With Jan and Mary Ann producing the series, A Friend Of The Family is set to be one of the most accurate on-screen portrayals of the true crime case. Speaking about her involvement in the new series, Jan says: “We were a loving, trusting, educated family. We were not stupid or careless. So how could this happen in our neighbourhood, where we knew everyone, and everyone was a friend? The truth is that most predators are not strangers but people we know – people who can build trust, create special friendships and separate family members psychologically.”
She adds: “This story will make you talk, shout, cry – and it will make you angry. Good. The team of writers, actors, designers, directors and producers led by Alex Hedlund, Eliza Hittman and Nick Antosca have captured the heart of how good people can be manipulated and their children victimised. Our story is relatable because so many families have direct experience with this sort of abuse.
“I hope that our story will start conversations – because secrets live in darkness and silence.”
What else has been said about A Friend Of The Family?
Speaking about his work on the new series, Nick Antosca says: “The series exists outside the typical categories of genre. It’s a thriller built around obsessive relationships, a family drama and a nightmarish coming-of-age story.
“In the course of working on this story and talking with others who have worked on it, one thing has become clear: it’s more relatable than it first seems. The Broberg’s story is an extreme point on a continuum that more of us are on than we realise.”
He added: “It was a wrenching, complicated story to work on. In addition to the thousands of pages of trial transcripts, FBI notes, interviews and childhood diaries that we were able to use to tell the story, we have had the privilege of working with Jan Broberg herself. We could not and would not tell this story without Jan and her family’s blessing and participation.”
When and where will A Friend Of The Family be available to watch?
The nine-episode series will be available to stream on Peacock from 6 October in the US. A confirmed UK release date is yet to be announced, but we do know that Peacock is available to stream exclusively on Sky and Now.
We’ll be sure to update you once we know more.
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