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An official teaser from Peacock’s upcoming limited crime drama “A Friend Of The Family” transports viewers back to the 1970s and hints at the unexpected horrors awaiting a young Jan Broberg and her family when they meet a friendly new neighbor.
Broberg was kidnapped not once, but twice, as a child in the 1970s by Robert Berchtold, a “charismatic, obsessed family ‘friend,’” who set his sights on the family and used “sophisticated tactics” to manipulate, control and terrify the unsuspecting Broberg family, according to a press release promoting the series, which will premiere Oct. 6.
“A Friend Of The Family” is a dramatized version of the true-life story, made in collaboration with Jan Broberg and her mother Mary Ann Broberg, who both serve as producers of the series.
Set to a more ominous version of “Happy Together” once made popular in the late 1960s by The Turtles, the teaser opens with nostalgic images of children running down the street, doing cartwheels in the yard and happily sitting on a 1970’s style couch with their parents as everyone smiles at the camera.
“I bet when you were a little kid and you thought about the perfect place, this is probably what you wanted for yourself,” the narrator says as the images flash by.
Viewers also get a glimpse at the first moment Robert Berchtold—a seemingly wholesome neighbor played by Jake Lacy—meets a young Jan.
“I’m Jan,” the young girl in a pale blue coat says while extending her hand.
“Please to meet you Jan,” Berchtold replies.
But it isn’t long before the trailer foreshadows the much darker moments to come, hinting at a burgeoning secret romance between Berchtold and both of Jan’s parents, played in the series by Anna Paquin and Colin Hanks, and flashing to images of a kidnapping and scene with law enforcement authorities surrounding an orange van with their guns drawn.
“They were supposed to be back some time ago,” Jan’s father remarks to his family as the teaser cuts to Jan asleep in the back of Berchtold’s car as he drives away.
Nick Antosca, the writer, show runner and executive producer of the true crime drama, said the series strives to explain how an average American family got entangled in Berchtold’s manipulative tactics.
“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,” he said in the Peacock 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 too.”
While he acknowledged the family made some mistakes, he said the “horror story” is also about survival and how a family endured the unthinkable.
Jan Broberg said the series tells “our family’s story and my story.”
“We were a loving, trusting, educated family. We were not stupid or careless. So how could this happen in our neighborhood, where we knew everyone, and everyone was a friend?” she asked. “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 hopes by sharing how the family’s deep friendship turned into a horrible nightmare, where she was sexually assaulted from the age of 12 to 16 and “severely brainwashed” by a man her family had come to trust, will show viewers how easy abuse can happen.
“I hope that our story will start conversations—because secrets live in darkness and silence,” she said.
The first three episodes of the series will drop Oct. 6, with new episodes streaming weekly.
The shocking story was also the focus of the 2019 Skye Borgman documentary, "Abducted in Plain Sight." Borgman served as a consultant in "A Friend Of The Family."
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