Robert "B" Berchtold is anything but A Friend of the Family in the true crime series' first trailer.
Played by The White Lotus' Jake Lacy, Robert is at the center of the Peacock show based on the harrowing true story of the Broberg family, whose daughter Jan (Hendrix Yancey, Mckenna Grace) was kidnapped multiple times over a period of a few years in the '70s. Though it might be hard to understand how a family so devoted to each other, their faith and community could let someone as dangerous as Robert into their lives, A Friend of the Family's trailer starts to offer answers.
He drives carpool for the neighborhood kids, has a loving wife (Lio Tipton) and kids, lends a helping hand wherever needed and charms everyone in sight—especially the Broberg parents, Mary Ann (Anna Paquin) and Bob Broberg (Colin Hanks). Robert is "practically a member of the family," as Mary Ann puts it.
The facade begins to fade when Robert turns his focus to Jan, though. The authorities eventually get involved and one detective even tells Mary Ann and Bob, "No one thinks that their best friend is a monster, but he has all the hallmarks of a psychopathic personality."
"Robert Berchtold doesn't feel emotions the way that we do," the detective continues. "He will lie and manipulate to get the only thing that he wants."
The trailer ends with Robert and Jan seemingly on the run, with a chilling final narration: "There is no telling what he is capable of."
The real Mary Ann and Jan Broberg serve as producers on the Peacock series, and the latter previously released a statement to set the record straight on her story. "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?" Jan began. "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."
Looking back on her childhood—most of which was spent with her two sisters, with Jan describing all three of them as "so safe, so loved [and] so carefree"—Jan said they first met the Berchtold family, who had children of the same ages, in 1972."
"A deep friendship ensued," Jan continued, explaining that the families did "hundreds" of activities together over the years. "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."
Turning her focus to A Friend of the Family, Jan said the series will make viewers "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," Jan concluded. "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."
Antosca previously released a statement of his own, expressing his hope for anyone watching to "come away from the series with a deeper understanding of the family and say: In that time, in that place, they were like me. They made terrible mistakes, but they loved their kids. And, a master manipulator took advantage of them."
"The series exists outside the typical categories of genre," he continued. "It’s a thriller built around obsessive relationships, a family drama, and a nightmarish coming-of-age story."
The showrunner also described A Friend of the Family as a story about survival, "and a larger story about the American psyche and the institutions of family, religion and community."
"And part of what makes the story so exceptional isn’t how strange it is, but the fact that the Brobergs told it at all," Antosca said. "It was a wrenching, complicated story to work on. In addition to the thousands of pages of trial transcripts, FBI notes, interviews, and childhood diaries that we were able to use to tell the story, we have had the privilege of working with Jan Broberg herself. We could not and would not tell this story without Jan and her family’s blessing and participation. Thank you for watching."
Scroll on for photos from A Friend of the Family, which premieres Thursday, Oct. 8 on Peacock with three episodes at launch and new episodes streaming weekly thereafter.
(E! and Peacock are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)