Peacock’s A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY Official First Look Images – featuring Jake Lacy, Anna Paquin, Colin Hanks, Mckenna Grace, and More, Premieres Oct 6.
A NOTE FROM NICK ANTOSCA – SHOWRUNNER, EP AND WRITER
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.
It is 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 to help audiences empathize with them 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.
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 Brobergs’ story is an extreme point on a continuum that more of us are on than we realize.
The other reason I couldn’t stop thinking about this story is, after all of it, the Broberg family grew stronger. They loved and forgave. This is a story about survival, and a larger story about the American psyche and the institutions of family, religion, and community. 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.
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.
A NOTE FROM JAN BROBERG – PRODUCER
I am Jan Broberg, and “A Friend of the Family” 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? 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.
As little girls, we talked and we listened around the dinner table every night. Mom and Dad were always there. We were so safe, so loved, so carefree. Then, in 1972, we met the nicest new family at church, with children who matched us in age. A deep friendship ensued. Over several years, our families did hundreds of activities together: church parties, family dinners, boating and snowmobile trips, sleepovers, game nights, movies and barbecues. 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.
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 victimized. 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.
A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY is based on the harrowing true story of the Broberg family, whose daughter Jan was kidnapped multiple times over a period of years by a charismatic, obsessed family “friend.” The Brobergs — devoted to their faith, family, and community — were utterly unprepared for the sophisticated tactics their neighbor 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.
SERIES REGULARS | CAST & CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS
ANNA PAQUIN (Flack, The Irishman, True Blood) will play the role of Mary Ann Broberg. Mary Ann is the mother of three daughters, and her life has felt safe, happy and rewarding until recently. She has realized too late that she may have missed warning signs and made a terrible mistake by becoming close to her charismatic neighbor Robert Berchtold — and trusting him around her oldest daughter, Jan.
JAKE LACY (The White Lotus, Being the Ricardos) will play the role of Robert “B” Berchtold, a charming local businessman who 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.
COLIN HANKS (The Offer, Impeachment: American Crime Story) will play the role of Bob Broberg, Mary Ann’s husband and Jan’s father, Bob is big-hearted, kind, and everyone’s best friend, the very model of a suburban patriarch. As his family gets closer to neighbor Robert Berchtold, Bob begins to fear that something is amiss.
LIO TIPTON (The Edge of Sleep, Why Women Kill) will play the role of Gail Berchtold. Gail is Robert Berchtold’s wife and the mother of a large family. Her husband suffers from mood swings and this has led him to act erratically. Gail’s concerns about her husband may keep her on edge, but she never could have expected what her husband would eventually do.
MCKENNA GRACE (Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Handmaid’s Tale) will play the role of Jan Broberg in the later years. Jan is the oldest daughter of Bob and Mary Ann Broberg and leads a happy, traditional life in an idyllic American city. Jan trusts family friend and neighbor Robert Berchtold, though he has plans for her abduction that she doesn’t suspect.
HENDRIX YANCEY (George & Tammy, Unbelievable) will play the role of Jan Broberg in the early years. Jan is the oldest daughter of Bob and Mary Ann Broberg and leads a happy, traditional life in an idyllic American city. Jan trusts family friend and neighbor Robert Berchtold, though he has plans for her abduction that she doesn’t suspect.