Is ‘The Watcher’ a True Story and 5 More Burning Questions Answered

The Watcher is a new mystery thriller from writer/director Ryan Murphy. The seven-episode series stars Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale as Nora and Dean Brannock, a couple who exhaust their savings to purchase their dream home in the suburbs. Soon after moving in, the Brannocks begin receiving mysterious letters from the Watcher, who promises to keep a constant eye on the home and its new residents.  As more and more unsettling incidents befall the family, the list of suspects grows. The Brannocks are determined to find who the Watcher is.

Is The Watcher a true story?

The Watcher is based on the true story published in the 2018 New York Magazine article “The Haunting of a Dream House,” by Reeves Wiedeman. The article details how Maria and Derek Broaddus purchased their dream home in June 2014, not far from where Maria grew up. Shortly after closing, the Broadduses began receiving anonymous letters from the Watcher. The first letter was friendly and welcomed them to the neighborhood. But subsequent letters were increasingly hostile and focused on the family’s three young children. The Broaddus family, feeling unsafe, employed the help of local law enforcement to find out who was sending the threatening letters.

Where is The Watcher house?

The real-life Watcher house is located at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey. The house in the series shares the same address. The neighborhood and homes filmed for the series are in New York.

What happened to The Watcher house?

The home was put up for sale in February 2015 — eight months after the Broadduses purchased 657 Boulevard. After a series of price reductions, the listing was removed in June 2015. The Broadduses filed a legal complaint against the previous owners for failing to disclose letters they’d received. With their lawsuit going nowhere, the Broadduses relisted the home in spring 2016, but all the offers backed out. They considered selling the house to a developer who could tear the house down and create two houses, but the planning board rejected the plan. Eventually, the Broadduses found a tenant to rent the house (and recoup some of the investment) and sold the house in July 2019 for $500,000 less than they paid for it five years earlier.

How does the series differ from real life?

While based on a true story, The Watcher fictionalizes some elements of the story – namely, the Broaddus family never moved into 657 Boulevard, whereas the fictional Brannocks take up residence there. The figures are slightly different as well: In the show the house is listed for $3.2 million (causing considerable financial strain on the Brannocks), whereas in real life it was purchased for $1.35 million.

Did the Watcher case get solved? Who is the Watcher?

To date, Westfield police have not uncovered the identity of the Watcher. Watch the mystery of 657 Boulevard unfold when The Watcher premieres on Netflix Oct. 13.

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