How accurate is Netflix’s ‘The Watcher’?


Ruthie Light, Editor

*This article contains minor spoilers, so be cautious when reading!*

Recently, I watched the 2022 Netflix original show, “The Watcher,” and I noticed many differing components from that of the show and that of the case it was based on. “The Watcher” is an ominous drama series that is loosely based on the unsolved true crime case of a family who began receiving mysterious and threatening letters after moving into a new house in 2014. As I made my way through the series, I realized that there are many contrasting components from the series and the true crime case that it was based on. Many shows and movies that are based on true events often make the cases seem more dramatic and severe than they actually were. 

To begin, the Netflix series “The Watcher” follows the story of a married couple, Nora (Naomi Watts) and Dean Brannock (Bobby Cannavale), with their two kids Ellie (Isabel Gravitt) and Carter Brannock (Luke David Blumm), who are harassed with letters signed by a stalker called the Watcher after moving into their dream home in Westfield, New Jersey. The series showcases the Brannocks attempt to rid themselves of the nightmare their lives had become. In search of help, the Brannocks hire a private investigator, set up an intensive security system in the house, and alert the WPD on multiple occasions. On top of their dilemma with The Watcher, the Brannocks are also greeted by their odd and nosy new neighbors. 

In comparison, the real-life case of The Watcher and the Broaddus family goes as follows: After buying the house at 657 Boulevard Westfield, NJ in 2014, Derek and Maria Broaddus, along with their three children, decided to renovate it before moving in. During the process of re-doing the house, The Watcher began tormenting them, claiming in his anonymous letters that the house was his family’s for decades and that he was put in charge of watching over it, waiting for its “second coming.” The family ultimately decided not to move into the house, and hired private investigators. Even after the Westfield Police investigation, The Watcher was not able to be identified.The Broaddus family originally bought the house for $1.3 million and after about five years of living in horror, they sold it in 2019 for $400,000 less. 

I had mentioned before that “The Watcher” is loosely based on the real case of the Broaddus family in 2014. When I say loosely, though, I mean very loosely. However, here are some components from both the series and the real case that are pretty similar! In both the Netflix series and the true crime case, 657 Boulevard Westfield, NJ stays true to its identity, as Netflix decided to keep the address the same in the show. Another aspect of the case that Netflix kept the same are the letters that were written by The Watcher. From the typewritten font down to the exact wording in the messages, the letters in the series are identical to their real life counterparts. These comparisons, though, are about the only things that are accurate to the real-life events that took place at 657 Boulevard in 2014. Almost everything else in this series is completely fictional. The Branock family and their neighbors were merely inspired by real people. 

 In reality, the owners of the house were Derek and Maria Broaddus, and they had three children all under the age of 10. In the series, the Brannock family is shown to have two older children. Additionally, in their time owning the house, the Brannocks never even moved in due to their renovation plans and the haunting letters they received. However, the Broaddus’ are shown being terrorized by The Watcher during their time living in the house. According to the case, the Brannock family was never physically harmed by The Watcher like the Broaddus’ were shown to be. The series also highlights the shady lives of the Brannock’s new neighbors and their supposed suspicious activity. Yes, the neighbors in the show are inspired by the real neighbors of the Broaddus family, but they weren’t as creepy and meddling as they are portrayed to be in the series.

In conclusion, there are many similar and contrasting components from the Netflix series “The Watcher” and the true crime case that it was based on. Overall, I did enjoy tuning into “The Watcher.” In fact, I thought it was really amusing and enticing, and I would recommend it to people who enjoy thriller TV. Though, I do think it is important to separate fact from fiction, especially when it comes to media that is based on true events.