Rych McCain Hollyhood Notes: A friend of the family

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A friend of the family – TV/Streaming

Reputationch McCain International/National Syndicated Entertainment Columnist

Top Hollywood influencer

You’ve heard about it on the news. Now watch it play out on the screen. #AFriendOfTheFamily, the terrifying true story of the Broberg family, streams October 6 on Peacock.


It is easy to judge the history of the Broberg family 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 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 the audience 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 just like me. They made terrible mistakes, but they loved their children. And a master manipulator took advantage of them.

A friend of the family

The series exists outside the typical genre categories. It’s a thriller built around obsessive relationships, a family drama and a nightmarish coming-of-age story.

Over the course of working on this story and talking to others who have worked on it, one thing has become clear: It is more relatable than it first appears. The Brobergers’ story is an extreme point on a continuum that more of us are on than we realize.

L-R Anna Paquin, Elle Lisic, Hendrix Yancey, Mila Harris and Colin Yancey

The other reason I couldn’t stop thinking about this story is that the Broberg family grew stronger after all. They loved and forgave. This is a story of survival and a larger story of the American psyche and the institutions of family, religion and society. And part of what makes the story so unique is not how strange it is, but the fact that the Brobergers told it at all.

It was a harrowing, complicated story to work on. In addition to the thousands of pages of court transcripts, FBI memos, interviews, and childhood diaries that we could use to tell the story, we have had the privilege of working with Jan Broberg himself. We could not and would not tell this story without the blessing and participation of Jan and her family.

Thank you for watching.



I am Jan Broberg, and “A friend of the family” tells the story of our family 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 psychologically separate family members.

L-R Jake Lacy and Hendrix Yancey

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 most wonderful new family at church, with children who matched us in age. A deep friendship arose. Over the years, our families did hundreds of activities together: church parties, family dinners, boat and snowmobile trips, sleepovers, game nights, movies and barbecues. Then on a normal afternoon the father kidnapped me – and from the age of 12 to 16 I was sexually assaulted and severely brainwashed by this man whom I trusted.

This story will make you talk, shout, cry – and it will make you angry. Well. 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 type of abuse.

I hope our story will start conversations – because secrets live in darkness and silence.



L-R Anna Paquin and Colin Hanks

A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY is based on the chilling true story of the Broberg family, whose daughter Jan was kidnapped several times over the course of a few years by a charismatic, obsessed family “friend”. The Brobergers – devoted to their faith, family and community – were completely 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 changed – and how they survived.

Premiere date: October 6

Showrunner / Executive Producer / Writer: Nick Antosca
Executive Producer: Alex Hedlund
Executive producer/director (multiple episodes, including 101): Eliza Hittman
Producers: Jan Broberg, Mary Ann Broberg
Consulting Producer: Skye Borgman for Top Knot Films
Produced by: UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group
Format: 9 x 60 min, True Crime Limited Drama Series


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 been safe, happy and rewarding until recently. She has realized too late that she may have overlooked warning signs and made a terrible mistake by getting close to her charismatic neighbor Robert Berchtold – and trusting him around her eldest daughter, Jan.

JAKE LACEY (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 at manipulation, he puts everyone around him at ease as he carefully plans 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 grows closer to neighbor Robert Berchtold, Bob begins to fear something is wrong.

LIO TIPTON (The Edge of Sleep, Why Women Kill) will play the role of Gail Berchtold. Gail is Robert Berchtold’s wife and mother of a large family. Her husband suffers from mood swings and this has caused him to act erratically. Gail’s worries about her husband may keep her on edge, but she could never have anticipated what her husband would ultimately do.

MCKENNA GRACE (Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Handmaid’s Tale) will play the role of Jan Broberg in later years. Jan is the eldest daughter of Bob and Mary Ann Broberg and lives a happy, traditional life in an idyllic American town. Jan trusts family friend and neighbor Robert Berchtold, even 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 eldest daughter of Bob and Mary Ann Broberg and lives a happy, traditional life in an idyllic American town. Jan trusts family friend and neighbor Robert Berchtold, even though he has plans for her abduction that she doesn’t suspect.

C) 2022 Rych McCain Media/Syndication TM

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