Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Real-Life Family Behind The Watcher Had Two Requests Before Selling Their Story To Netflix

Netflix's "The Watcher" is a true crime series that is based on a real-life incident that took place at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey. While the series is based on a series of threatening letters the Broaddus family, the homeowners of 657 Boulevard, received in the summer of 2014, much of the series is fictional. The characters are fictitious, as are most of the events that happen in the series. Really, the only consistencies that exist between what actually happened and what the Netflix original ended up doing with it were the actual location of the house and the letters themselves.

Lifetime produced a film in 2016, also called "The Watcher," without ever getting permission from the Broadduses to do so. This film took a much more extreme approach to what the family actually went through. Due to the production of this film and the buzz about the story, the Broadduses decided to sell the rights to the story to Netflix so they had some say in what happened with it this time around. In selling the story, they had a couple of requests they wished to be respected.

The Broaddus family didn't want to be in the series

When negotiating with Netflix, the Broadduses didn't have many demands. After already being burned once by Lifetime exploiting their story, they just wanted to maintain some control over their own narrative. This led the Broadduses to ask for two simple things as Netflix adapted "The Watcher" into an original series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Firstly, they asked that their names not be used in the show. Whoever the family was that found themselves terrorized by the unknown stalker, they did not want it to link back to their actual family in any way. For this reason, creator Ryan Murphy decided to use the name Brannock instead. In the series, Dean (Bobby Cannavale) and Nora Brannock (Naomi Watts) have two children. They move into the house with the intent of living in a quiet, safe neighborhood outside the city, and they sink every single penny they have into the house in order to attain it. As many families do in horror, their life savings go into their new house as a way to keep them trapped there. Unable to afford a different place to live, they have no means to leave.

The Broaddusses' second request followed the same measures of security and privacy. They wanted the actors portraying the family to look as little like them as possible. Considering the real crime has never been solved and the culprit behind the ominous letters has never been identified, these requests seemed reasonable enough.

Murphy commented on the ongoing investigation and how it influenced his research and writing. "When we were shooting it, there would be things coming out on Reddit like, 'Here's a new suspect, here's another idea. Here's another thing.' It was like working on something that was alive, we were constantly adding characters." (via The Hollywood Reporter).