“A Friend of the Family” Review

Irene Padillacarson, Staff Reporter

“A Friend of the Family,” a nine episode show released within the first week of October on Peacock, was somewhat drowned out by the Netflix show “Dahmer- Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”. 

“A Friend of the Family” portrays the life of Jan Broberg, now 60, who was groomed and kidnapped twice in her teen years by the same man. 

The show stars Mckenna Grace, a popular actress among the younger generation. Grace described her relations with the cast who already had experience acting together before her arrival as “nerve-wrecking”. 

She described the set as “light [and] fun”. She had much respect for the older actors, such as Colin Hanks, who played Broberg’s dad, and Jake Lacy who played Robert Berchtold, Broberg’s kidnapper. 

Grace also explained how Jan was an active member throughout the show. The young actress talked about how she had the opportunity to message Jan whenever she had an inquiry, or simply to show her a part of the show they were working on. 

“That was my main thing in taking this role: ‘Is Jan involved? Is she okay with this?’ It wouldn’t be right to tell her story without her,” Grace said during an interview with Vulture. 

“A Friend of the Family” got a few things right during its production that Netflix seemed to miss with “Dahmer”. 

In “A Friend of the Family,” the victim was aware of the production and even worked alongside the creators to help with the story telling, though, of course, some scenes were changed for “dramatic effect”. Broberg even played the therapist for her younger-self which made the scene more personal and emotional. 

Broberg also highly approved of the show’s release, with the goal to bring more awareness to sexual and child abuse. Many families affected by Dahmer were offended and tired of their own traumas being revived without their consent. 

The show also did a good job of showing Berchtold as the manipulator and villain he was. Nothing was portrayed as sob backstories or excuses for the things he did. 

Many true crimes seem almost glorifying as of recently. “A Friend of the Family” was more informative, showing how grooming can start from a simple “hello” at church, as seen with the Mormon family in the show. 

The ending, where Broberg understands that she had been brainwashed for so long, was short yet heartwrenching. Her parents also explain that Broberg wasn’t the only one groomed. In fact, the whole Broberg family was, which many people seem to not understand and instead view the family as weak-willed and incapable of raising their children.   

Jan Broberg first decided on sharing her story to help protect others by spreading awareness. She and her mother wrote the book, “Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story.” Broberg also created a ninety minute documentary called “Abducted in Plain Sight”. 

In order to help those who might be in or recovering from sexual assault or abuse, she created the Jan Broberg Foundation.