Peacock’s A Friend Of The Family is based on a horrific true story about a charismatic guy manipulating his neighbors into essentially letting him kidnap their daughter multiple times (see also: Netflix’s documentary Abducted In Plain Sight, which is about the same people), making it a cautionary tale about who you can and cannot trust. Peacock’s dramatized version of the story, which comes from showrunner/EP/writer Nick Antosca (also creator and writer of The Act, Brand New Cherry Flavor, and Candy), uses its casting and costume design to make that lesson more obvious: The creep kidnapper is played by Jake Lacy, who is always pretty likable and looks like a standard handsome man, while the father of girl who gets kidnaps is played by Colin Hanks, who is also pretty likable, but has big glasses and a whispy receding hairline here—the classic aesthetic indicators of a creep.
This trailer, set to a spooky version of “Happy Together,” doesn’t bother hiding who the bad guy is: It’s the one who stares longingly at a young girl with a vacant, predatory shark grin. Then again, not to spoil the story, but the man Lacy’s playing isn’t the only bad guy in this story. Jan Broberg, the woman who was kidnapped as a girl, is a producer on A Friend Of The Family, and she had this to say in a press release:
We were a loving, trusting, educated family. We were not stupid or careless. So how could this happen in our neighborhood, where we knew everyone, and everyone was a friend? The truth is that most predators are not strangers but people we know — people who can build trust, create special friendships, and separate family members psychologically.
As little girls, we talked and we listened around the dinner table every night. Mom and Dad were always there. We were so safe, so loved, so carefree. Then, in 1972, we met the nicest new family at church, with children who matched us in age. A deep friendship ensued. Over several years, our families did hundreds of activities together: church parties, family dinners, boating and snowmobile trips, sleepovers, game nights, movies and barbecues. Then on a normal afternoon, the father kidnapped me — and from age 12 to 16 I was sexually assaulted and severely brainwashed by this man who I trusted.
This story will make you talk, shout, cry — and it will make you angry. Good. The team of writers, actors, designers, directors and producers led by Alex Hedlund, Eliza Hittman, and Nick Antosca have captured the heart of how good people can be manipulated and their children victimized. Our story is relatable because so many families have direct experience with this sort of abuse.
I hope that our story will start conversations — because secrets live in darkness and silence.
A friend Of The Family premieres on Peacock on October 6. In addition to Hanks and Lacy, it stars Anna Paquin, Lio Tipton, McKenna Grace, and Hendrix Yancey.