The WatcherRyan Murphy’s successful thriller that literally conquered Netflix since its release on the streaming platform, it is based on the true story of an American family who, after buying a new home, began receiving a series of threatening letters from the so-called “Observer‘, a person who was all too familiar with their lives and, in particular, their new abode.
He was certain from the start that such a haunting story, with a star-studded cast like Bobby Cannavale, Naomi Watts and Jennifer Coolidge, would surely win over audiences. The ambiguous ending of The Watcher, heavily criticized by most viewers, was not enough to make us forget how distressing some moments of the seven episodes of the series were.
That said, fans will be further infuriated when they find out that most of the scariest and most inexplicable moments of the show were invented wholeheartedly or heavily romance yourself From the Creators: Below we’ll dig into some of the most shocking aspects of the Netflix series that, in truth, in some cases are nowhere near inspired by what actually happened to the Broaddus family.
1. The Observer has never gone beyond the letters
After watching the series, fans think that the Broadduses, the real family that inspired the writers to create the Brannocks, were constantly harassed with letters, phone calls and dead animals. In fact, according to Reeves Wiedeman’s reporter, the Broadduses received only four letters in total from someone calling himself the Observer: one before finalizing the home purchase, the next two in the following month, and a fourth letter allegedly arrived years later, while the Broadduses were trying to sell the house.
As if that weren’t enough, the Watcher hasn’t been as prolific as the show suggests: to date, only two other letters are suspected to potentially have been sent by the stalker. One was sent to the Woods family, former owners of 657 Boulevard, shortly before the home was sold; and another arrived in a neighbor’s mailbox after newspapers started reporting on the matter. There have never been any late night phone calls, dead ferrets, or scary videos where a “ghost girl” pretends to have had sex with a member of the Broaddus family.
2. John Graff’s story is only partially true
The John Graff character is based on one of New Jersey’s most famous murder cases: in 1971, during a single day, John List murdered his wife, mother, and three children, leaving the bodies at the house along with a note explaining what had him prompted to do the deed. It was a month before the bodies were found in Westfield and it was another 18 years before List was identified and arrested. By the time he was found, the man had changed his name, remarried and joined a Lutheran church – all of these details fit perfectly with the characterization presented on the show, as does the alleged destruction of all photographs of him.
However, The Watcher went too far, starting with the fact that List may be the Watcher: After his 1989 capture, the real John Graff was tried and convicted in 1990 of five counts of first-degree murder. He remained in prison, despite appeals, until his death in 2008. According to police reports, the man does not appear to have had any direct connection to 657 Boulevard and what is certain is that he never put foot inside the house.
3. The “Ode to a House” project never existed
When the Broaddus family ordeal began, police briefly followed a lead involving screenwriter, novelist, and high school teacher Robert Kaplow. The writer, on the other hand, never commissioned any student to write letters to houses in the area, even though he used to say that he did it himself in the past for a particular house: no, we are not talking about 657 Boulevard, but of a Victorian house on the north side; the owners ended up befriending him, regularly inviting him to afternoon tea in their living room.
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4. The real estate agent was completely invented
Jennifer Coolidge is a simply breathtaking actress and her amazing performance as thereal estate agent Karen Calhoun tempts us to believe that such a peculiar and well-characterized character actually existed. Unfortunately, however, this is not the case at all: the reports released by the Broaddus family never mention such a figure; the couple speak only of established real estate giant Coldwell Banker, who was their agent during the first attempts to sell the house. While there have been theories about a greedy and unscrupulous agent very similar to Karen, nothing has ever been revealed to support this theory.
5. The neighbors were weird, but not that weird
Pearl and Jasper Winslow, starring Mia Farrow and Terry Kinney respectively, are based on 90-year-old Peggy Langford and her schizophrenic son Michael. The latter was indeed one of the suspects during the investigation and it is well known that at the time he had a reputation for wandering absentmindedly around people’s backyards picking up their newspapers. On the other hand, neither Michael nor anyone else is ever inside 657 Boulevard, even though he remained a suspect in the Broaddus case for years.
Richard Kind and Margo Martindale were the perfect pair to bring menacing Mitch and Mo to life, but that doesn’t mean their characters actually existed. The only truth about a couple of this kind is that two very elderly neighbors were in the habit of spending hours on lawn chairs positioned in front of the Broaddus property. The fact that they are snooty and confrontational in the show is completely made up, not least because it’s important to remember that the Broadduses never moved into 657 Boulevard. Furthermore, there have reportedly been no homicides in the area for several decades, so the events involving the son and the death of the two homeless men are also not rooted in reality.