Since its debut on October 13, 2022, Netflix’s series ‘The Watcher‘ has received attention with its chilling narrative. Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, this mystery thriller has prompted a key question after its finale: does it mirror real-life events? Here is the true story that inspired its creation.
Is ‘The Watcher’ Inspired By Real Events?
The story of ‘The Watcher’ is rooted in actual events experienced by Derek and Maria Broaddus.
In 2014, after purchasing their dream home at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey, their excitement turned to unease as they started receiving disturbing letters from an anonymous stalker identifying themselves as ‘The Watcher.’ These letters, with menacing overtones, mentioned the Broaddus family’s children and house renovations and claimed a longstanding history of observing the house.
The family investigated various leads, including neighborhood residents, and even hired private investigators, but the identity of ‘The Watcher’ remained unknown. Their distressing experience, which began in 2014 until they sold the home in 2019, was detailed in a 2018 New York Magazine article by Reeves Wiedeman. This article served as the primary source for the Netflix series.
The Broaddus family’s plight and the ensuing ‘Watcher’ letters not only disrupted their lives but also attracted substantial media coverage. The story became a focal point of public interest, with various community reactions ranging from empathy to skepticism. The narrative evolved into a subject of widespread speculation, with numerous conspiracy theories surfacing over time.
Differences and Adaptations
While ‘The Watcher’ on Netflix closely follows the Broaddus family’s story, certain elements have been fictionalized. For instance, the character John Graff in the series is based on John List, a notorious real-life murderer from Westfield who killed his family in 1971.
Contrary to what some viewers might assume, the series did not film at the actual 657 Boulevard residence. Instead, a private home in Rye, New York, constructed in 2016, was used as the stand-in for the Broaddus family’s house.
Additional scenes were shot at a functioning motel in Locust Valley on Long Island, New York. Interestingly, the real 657 Boulevard and its neighborhood received increased attention and curiosity from fans and visitors following the series’ release.
What’s the Future of ‘The Watcher’?
‘The Watcher’ premiered on October 13, 2022, and was originally planned as a miniseries. However, as you can understand from the finale episode, the show will continue. Reportedly, Netflix renewed ‘The Watcher’ for a second season in November 2022, but it’s unknown whether it will be a continuation of the story or feature a new ensemble and storyline.