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Crime News A Friend Of The Family

A First Look At Peacock's Much Anticipated True Crime Drama 'A Friend of the Family'

"A Friend of the Family," tells the story of Jan Broberg, who was kidnapped by a trusted family friend who spent years manipulating her family.

By Gina Tron
A Friend Of The Family first look

The first official images from Peacock’s “A Friend of the Family” give a glimpse into what viewers can expect from the upcoming true crime series.

The scripted drama is based upon the 1970s kidnapping of Idaho girl Jan Broberg by her neighbor Robert Berchtold. And that 1970s vibe, from the hair styles to the clothing, is very apparent in these first-look pictures, released Tuesday.

Anna Paquin stars as Broberg’s mother Mary Ann Broberg, who realized much too late that she wrongly trusted Berchtold, who had become a close friend of the family. Jake Lacy, who starred in “The White Lotus,” plays Berchtold. Colin Hanks and Lio Tipton also star in the series. 

A Friend Of The Family first look

The Broberg family was directly involved in the making of the series. In fact, Jan Broberg and Mary Ann Broberg are both producers. 

Jan stated on Tuesday that the series "tells our family’s story and my story.” 

“We were a loving, trusting, educated family. We were not stupid or careless,” she said. “So how could this happen in our neighborhood, 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."

A Friend Of The Family first look

Berchtold had befriended the Broberg family in their small Idaho town and served as something of a second father to Jan. When she was just 12, he kidnapped her, telling her family he was taking her horseback riding. She spent a month captive in his mobile home while he sexually assaulted her, grooming her into believing that she was half-alien and that the alien species needed her to have a baby with Berchtold by the time she was 16. Even though she was rescued by the FBI, in Berchtold's mobile home which he'd taken into Mexico, Berchtold allegedly blackmailed her parents into saying he had their consent for the trip, helping him avoid any significant jail time.

A Friend Of The Family first look

He then kidnapped her again, two years later, taking her to California and posing as her father, according to ABC News. That ordeal lasted four months before she was again rescued by the FBI.

Jan explained in a Tuesday press release that over the course of several years, her family and Berchtold's family “did hundreds of activities together,” including church parties, family dinners, boating and snowmobile trips. “Then on a normal afternoon, the father kidnapped me — and from age 12 to 16 I was sexually assaulted and severely brainwashed by this man who I trusted,” she stated.

A Friend Of The Family first look

Broberg survived the abductions and grew up to become an actor who has made dozens of television and film appearances.

The bizarre and high-profile case is also featured in the 2019 Skye Borgman documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight.” The renowned true crime documentarian is a consultant on this series. 

Nick Antosca, who created “The Act,” a series based on the Gypsy Rose Blanchard case, is the series’ showrunner, writer and executive producer.

A Friend Of The Family first look

“It’s easy to judge the Broberg family’s story from the outside. Sometimes when people first hear it, they get defensive: How could these parents have let this happen? I’m not like them,” Antosca said in a Tuesday press release. “That’s understandable. It’s a surreal story. When I first heard it, I empathized with the family’s vulnerability, and I felt like I understood their story from the outside. But it stayed with me, and I wanted to understand from the inside — to know what their lives felt like, to live in each family member’s experience, to see how they were caught in such a bizarre web, and help audiences understand too. I hope people will come away from the series with a deeper understanding of the family and say: In that time, in that place, they were like me. They made terrible mistakes, but they loved their kids. And a master manipulator took advantage of them.”

A Friend Of The Family first look

Antosca added that thousands of pages of trial transcripts, FBI notes, interviews, as well childhood diaries contributed to the making of the series. But most of all, he credits the Brobergs. 

“This is a horror story that’s also about survival,” he stated. “And part of what makes the story so exceptional isn’t how strange it is, but the fact that the Brobergs told it at all.”

"A Friend of the Family" premieres on Peacock on Oct. 6, with the first three episodes dropping at once. New episodes will then be released weekly.