‘A Friend Of The Family’ Team On Creating A Safe Environment On Set & The Importance Of Telling Difficult Stories Contenders TV

A Friend of the Family showrunner-creator Nick Antosca, stars Lio Tipton and Colin Hanks and activist and producer Jan Broberg, on whose life the series is based, joined Deadline’s Contenders Television to spotlight sexual-abuse awareness. 

The Peacock true-crime drama series follows Robert Berchtold (Jake Lacy), a serial child kidnapper. After becoming close friends with the Broberg family, Berchtold kidnaps their daughter Jan (played by both Mckenna Grace and Hendrix Yancey) twice within the span of two years. Anna Paquin, Austin Stowell and Patrick Fischler also star. 

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During the panel, Broberg, whose harrowing life experience has been recounted multiple times across books and documentaries, made a passionate statement regarding the importance of the serialized drama series. “I’ve been telling my story for 30 years, never on purpose, never thinking this would happen, but just because I knew that by telling our stories, maybe we could help future children not experience this,” she said.

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Broberg went on to detail the staggering statistic that 1 in 4 people will experience sexual abuse before they mature into adulthood. Tipton, who plays Robert’s wife Gail Berchtold, attested that her own experience with sexual assault fueled her desire to play the complicated role.

“Reading [the script] and being able to relate to it in such a personal way, then having to take a step back and truly have to take my own experience and learn from this material that I have in front of me and someone’s own personal experience in such an intimate way, it’s miserable, but you don’t get many chances [to depict a story] like that,” she said.

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Broberg said she appreciates the hard work and intricate details that sprung from the cast and crew in bringing her unconventional story to life. Namely, she praised the show’s care in not graphically depicting the gruesome acts themselves in favor of showcasing how widespread this issue is.

“[The story] is told in a way that was not only correct, but also in a way you didn’t need to see the actual child abuse, because what you needed to do was relate to the story, and that to me was the home run,” Broberg said. “So if viewers can relate and go, ‘Oh, I see. [Is that] how I’m being groomed? Wait, the guy I’m dating, is he after my 9-year-old?’ When you can start doing that, then we made something that actually matters. I am telling my story to protect other children from monsters that look like somebody’s father, somebody’s best friend, somebody’s priest, somebody’s school teacher or sports coach. I’m telling the story for all those millions of people who relate to this story.”

Check back Tuesday for the panel video.

Deadline Contenders Television is sponsored by Apple TV+, Coverfly, Eyepetizer, Final Draft, Los Siete Misterios, Michter’s, and Village Roadshow Entertainment. Partners include: Four Seasons Resort Maui, The American Pavilion, Julia Wong Designs and Pampring.

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