A Friend of the Family: What is it about and where is it filmed?

The Peacock original true crime scripted miniseries available to stream on Sky and NOW, explained.

A Friend of the Family
(Image credit: Peacock)

A Friend of the Family is set to grip true crime fans as the Peacock original miniseries hits screens this week with its nine-episode harrowing tale.

The limited series, being aired on Friday, October 7th on Peacock, can be streamed on Sky and NOW in the UK and we look at what it's about a little later on.

But if you love real-life adaptations like Where the Crawdad's Sing or Jeffrey Dahamer, then this latest series is a must-watch as we look at all you need to know about the true crime series...

What is A Friend of the Family about?

A friend of the family is based on the harrowing true story of the Broberg family, whose young daughter Jan was kidnapped multiple times over a period of years by a charismatic, obsessed family “friend.”

The drama series will show viewers how the family's neighbour Robert Berchtold used a web of manipulation, blackmail and lies to warp the young girl's mind and ultimately drive her family apart.

The Brobergs were devoted to their faith, family and community so they were totally unprepared for the tactics their neighbour chose to use to exploit their vulnerabilities and turn their daughter against them.

Set back in the 70s, the family were like any other regular family - dad Bob worked at his flower shop while mom Mary Ann stayed home to cook, clean and take care of their three daughters - Susan, Karen and Jan.

But their lives soon changed after a new unfamiliar family, known as the Berchtold's,  befriended them. Both families had eight children between them and they forged friendships - carpooling, family dinners, and even holidaying together over the years.

A secret romantic affair was stuck up between Mary Ann and Robert Berchtold, getting closer in the front seat of the old family Chevy. 

But then the unthinkable happens, 12-year-old Jan, who was believed to be on a horseback riding excursion alone with Robert for the afternoon, went missing for 35 days.

During this time she drifts in and out of a drugged stupor in the back of Roberts RV. Her recollection is that she was told by alien voices coming from a box that she was half alien and must save her home planet from destruction by giving birth to Robert’s child before the age of sixteen. 

But while the FBI and the Broberg family searched for their young daughter, Robert and 12-year-old Jan made their way to Mexico to get married, living in a hotel as they carried out their divine, intergalactic mission.

Their inappropriate romance is seemingly put to an end when a call to their hotel room is traced by the FBI. Jan is then rescued and Robert is arrested, but this is not be the end of their mission or the Broberg family’s troubles. 

Jan, refuses to recall the 'alien' voices (which are actually Rob playing them through a cassette player in her bedroom) and instead insists she is 'in love' with Robert and his family insist that the Brober's drop the charges against him before he stands trial.

The family blackmails them with details of the separate illicit relationships and threaten to expose it in the religious community. And while the charges get dropped, Jan disappears again. But this time Robert is compliant alone.

Some 50 years later than the real-life events, the mini-series follows the story of how their lives were permanently altered, and how they survived.

The cast stars Jake Lacy, Anna Paquin, Colin Hanks, Lio Tipton, Hendrix Yancey (Stranger Things), Mckenna Grace, Austin Stowell, Patrick Fischler, Bree Elrod and Philip Ettinger, and a late addition to the cast in July 2022, Ella Jay Basco joined the cast of the series.

Hendrix commented, "So honored to be a part of this story. Loved partnering with @janibroberg and the cast to help spread awareness and tell her story. ❤️❤️❤️❤️ I can’t wait for people to watch."

In real-life, Jan has since released her own book The Jan Broberg Story: The True Crime Story of a Young Girl Abducted detailing her kidnapping ordeal.

Where is A Friend of the Family filmed?

A Friend of the Family is filmed in metro Atlanta. Principal photography started back in February 2022 and the whole series has been produced in record-time with the first three episodes being made available to view on October 6th (October 7th in UK). Subsequent episodes will be added on the following Thursdays.

And fans can't wait. One fan wrote, "This story is the most strange and **** up I have ever encountered it just blows my mind! They where all at it lol" (sic)

And a third fan added, "such a disturbing story…"

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Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)