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S01.E01: Welcome, Friends


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Soon after the Brannock family moves into their dream home, they receive a threatening letter from a mysterious sender — and suffer an unexpected loss.

Original Air Date: October 13, 2022  

Edited by AnimeMania
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I've only just started this, but they've already made one glaring mistake: the letters weren't mailed. The letter in this episode is in a stamped envelope, and Naomi Watts's character (the wife) asks the detective about DNA evaluation on the stamp and envelope seal. That seems like a big miss, because part of what makes the real story so sinister and creepy is that someone was hand-delivering the letters, placing them in the Broadduses' mailbox.

ETA: Now that I'm further in, I see that this series is taking huge liberties with the real-life story.

Edited by bilgistic
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I expected this to be much better. The real story is an engaging mystery. I truly feel sorry for the actual family. But these characters are terribly cliched and not sympathetic at all.  I think it would have been better as a real documentary ala Unsolved Mysteries. Maybe then the real culprit would be finally apprehended. 

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1 hour ago, Dobian said:

"Based on a true story"

In other words, based on someone buying a house.  After that, all bets are off.  This is Ryan Murphy after all!

They should have just said “inspired by.” That’s about the extent of it.

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2 hours ago, Dobian said:

"Based on a true story"

In other words, based on someone buying a house.  After that, all bets are off.  This is Ryan Murphy after all!

Exactly!  I've only watched the first episode and am curious at how they are going to present the story.  The house isn't haunted and there is no intruder within (which seems like what this show is projecting).  So the only commonality is a family buys a house.  I guess I should just forget all about the truth and watch this for what it is, completely separate. 

The neighbors are waaaaaaay too over the top.  Even with the glimpse of them at the open house, I wouldn't have bought the place.

As a viewer, am I supposed to not like the couple?  Because I don't find either of them likable.  Dad's a hot head and Mom's a wannabe artist and a wannabe socialite. 

It did sound like they read the letters verbatim, which are creepy enough on their own! 

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3 hours ago, Cinnabon said:

They should have just said “inspired by.” That’s about the extent of it.

That's good to know, being unfamiliar with the real story, because it means anything I've seen in passing about the real story isn't actually a spoiler. Also good to know because this series is highly stylized and entertaining and I'm really enjoying it but if I were to be worrying at every moment about credulity and verisimilitude, it wouldn't be any fun. So I'm glad to know I can stop thinking about whether it really happened like this and just enjoy the ride

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I agree with the article on the Primetimer home page, Ryan Murphy was exactly the wrong choice to adapt The Watcher. I've always thought the true story of The Watcher letters was fascinating, but the letters seem to be the least of the Brannocks' problems in this series.  The neighbors are so over-the-top creepy and immediately hostile it's just cartoonish. "No one else who lived in the house had any problems with my brother living in the dumbwaiter, why do you!!" Yeah, right. I made it until the dead pet in the hallway but that's it for me. 

The fascinating part about the true story is that the letters were very creepy, vaguely threatening, and very specific about the family and the house, but nothing ever actually happened. Yet the family (understandably) got very suspicious of all their neighbors, wondering who it could be, and became obsessed with trying to find The Watcher. For me, that's the story! The core of it is a couple becoming paranoid and  obsessed (so sure, take some liberties and even make them get a little crazy) over a series of letters that never result in any actual physical threat. All these weirdo hostile neighbors and dead pets is an entirely different story.

I wish Netflix had given this story to Mike Flanagan. I think he could a better job with a story about vague creepy threats resulting in paranoid and obsessive behavior by the victims.

Edited by absolutelyido
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10 hours ago, Kiki620 said:

As a viewer, am I supposed to not like the couple?  Because I don't find either of them likable.  Dad's a hot head and Mom's a wannabe artist and a wannabe socialite. 

And the kids are pains in the ass, and Mitch and Mo are boundary-violating assholes, and the cops are incompetent morons, and Mia Farrow is fucking batshit crazy....

I'm pretty damn sure we're not supposed to find any of the characters likeable at all.  I'm also pretty sure that that's the point -- the 'Watcher' of the title isn't the evil, here:  It's everybody else.  It's, like, the only way this series makes sense to me at the moment.

And, I should add:  I think this series is pretty fucking fabulous -- at least at the moment. If they fail to stick the landing, which is always a possibility in a Ryan Murphy show, then I'll be wondering why I wasted so much time on it all.

Edited again to add:

Quote

I wish Netflix had given this story to Mike Flanagan. I think he could a better job with a story about vague creepy threats resulting in paranoid and obsessive behavior by the victims.

Oooh!  Excellent call.  I'd love to see that take on this story, too.

Edited by Demian
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I'm actually enjoying this so far - it's campy OTT fun. I knew going in that it wouldn't stick to the reality of the true-life story, so I wasn't concerned about that, but I was disappointed to discover this is a Ryan Murphy project, since his stuff tends to start strong and then quickly go off the rails.

The house is gorgeous, but a bit unrealistic - not within the means of a couple who are doing just okay by Manhattan standards,. I wish they had modelled it off the real-life house which is beautiful, (If I were rolling in dough, I would be tempted to buy, creepy letters and all) but more a more modest size - it still would have been a financial stretch, but more believable. The movie house looks like a holiday cottage for the Vanderbilts or something.

Compared to some other shows, I don't think the teenage kids are all that awful (yet). Bobby Cannavale feels like an odd choice as a "Dad" figure.

Look! it's beloved character actress Margo Martindale! (/BoJack Horseman reference)

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18 hours ago, Dobian said:

This is Ryan Murphy after all!

Why does everything I'm watching lately have Ryan Murphy's name attached to it?   I just watched "Mr. Harrigan's Phone" last night and there was his name in the credits.  Now this. 

As for the show, I'm getting tired of 1 percenters and their privileged troubles.   The Agatha Christie gimmick of multiple suspects is getting old, too.   But the joke's on me, I guess.   I started watching thinking it was a movie and figured I could at least make it through to the end.

Like the ferret, I'm out.

Edited by millennium
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11 hours ago, millennium said:

Why does everything I'm watching lately have Ryan Murphy's name attached to it?   I just watched "Mr. Harrigan's Phone" last night and there was his name in the credits.  Now this. 

As for the show, I'm getting tired of 1 percenters and their privileged troubles.   The Agatha Christie gimmick of multiple suspects is getting old, too.   But the joke's on me, I guess.   I started watching thinking it was a movie and figured I could at least make it through to the end.

Like the ferret, I'm out.

Yeah, the "I want my kids to have their own rooms and a yard" was... something. 

1. Am I to believe for a second these kids were sharing a bedroom before this?

2. For each to have their own room, you must buy a place that looks like it has about 10 bedrooms?

Watching a family obscenely overspend on a house they can't afford, only to then find they are immediately going to spend tens of thousands more dollars on remodeling already beautiful rooms... jfc. No wonder they went bankrupt before. 

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14 minutes ago, moonshine71 said:

Yeah, the "I want my kids to have their own rooms and a yard" was... something. 

1. Am I to believe for a second these kids were sharing a bedroom before this?

2. For each to have their own room, you must buy a place that looks like it has about 10 bedrooms?

Watching a family obscenely overspend on a house they can't afford, only to then find they are immediately going to spend tens of thousands more dollars on remodeling already beautiful rooms... jfc. No wonder they went bankrupt before. 

Right now the median home price in Westfield, NJ is $1 million.   The house in the show is well above the median.   Even in real life, the family paid $1.3 million in 2014, for a house that needed renovations (the Zillow value today is about $1.5 million, although that seems low).

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Yea 3 million but no castle level fencing surrounding the entire property and seriously locked up gates etc to keep the freakshow neighbors out? The immediate expensive renovations was ridiculous. I hate Ryan Murphy and hate that he gets any work let alone this much. I can’t escape him. I didn’t even know this was his until it was too late and I had to finish watching the entire series.

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On 10/14/2022 at 9:34 PM, moonshine71 said:

Holy shit, I'm not even 30 minutes into this, and I already hope Bobby Cannevale  gets killed for about 5 different separate reasons.

On 10/15/2022 at 12:19 AM, Cheezwiz said:

I'm actually enjoying this so far - it's campy OTT fun. I knew going in that it wouldn't stick to the reality of the true-life story, so I wasn't concerned about that, but I was disappointed to discover this is a Ryan Murphy project, since his stuff tends to start strong and then quickly go off the rails.

The house is gorgeous, but a bit unrealistic - not within the means of a couple who are doing just okay by Manhattan standards,. I wish they had modelled it off the real-life house which is beautiful, (If I were rolling in dough, I would be tempted to buy, creepy letters and all) but more a more modest size - it still would have been a financial stretch, but more believable. The movie house looks like a holiday cottage for the Vanderbilts or something.

Compared to some other shows, I don't think the teenage kids are all that awful (yet). Bobby Cannavale feels like an odd choice as a "Dad" figure.

Look! it's beloved character actress Margo Martindale! (/BoJack Horseman reference)

That gorgeous house is probably what Ryan Murphy considers average due to his enormous fortune, I do love the real estate porn but there is no way an "upper middle class" couple would be able to afford to maintain a home like that. 

You would HAVE to be rich.

On 10/15/2022 at 5:09 AM, millennium said:

Why does everything I'm watching lately have Ryan Murphy's name attached to it?   I just watched "Mr. Harrigan's Phone" last night and there was his name in the credits.  Now this. 

As for the show, I'm getting tired of 1 percenters and their privileged troubles.   The Agatha Christie gimmick of multiple suspects is getting old, too.   But the joke's on me, I guess.   I started watching thinking it was a movie and figured I could at least make it through to the end.

Like the ferret, I'm out.

I also don't get why Ryan Murphy seems to have his fingers in everything.

Off-topic...what the hell was up with that horrible tennis outfit that put on poor Jennifer Coolidge? She looked both matronly and pregnant.

On 10/14/2022 at 9:34 PM, moonshine71 said:

Holy shit, I'm not even 30 minutes into this, and I already hope Bobby Cannevale  gets killed for about 5 different separate reasons.

I am a little uncomfortable with how handsy he seems with the actress playing his teenage daughter but that is probably just me being weird.

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2 minutes ago, qtpye said:

I am a little uncomfortable with how handsy he seems with the actress playing his teenage daughter but that is probably just me being weird.

No, you're supposed to think it's weird and creepy. 

This bears very little resemblance to the real life story, aside from the content of the letters, but it's kind of campy fun, so far. 

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On 10/18/2022 at 1:38 PM, qtpye said:

This almost feels more like a parody than a retelling of actual events.

Having seen more of the episodes:  Yes!  Yes, this show is a parody.  A pretty nasty parody of exceptionally wealthy and privileged East Coast assholes, but a parody nonetheless.  And it's pretty fucking fabulous.

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7 hours ago, Demian said:

Having seen more of the episodes:  Yes!  Yes, this show is a parody.  A pretty nasty parody of exceptionally wealthy and privileged East Coast assholes, but a parody nonetheless.  And it's pretty fucking fabulous.

Agreed, once you lean into the stupidity, it is quite entertaining.

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On 10/15/2022 at 1:30 PM, moonshine71 said:

Yeah, the "I want my kids to have their own rooms and a yard" was... something. 

1. Am I to believe for a second these kids were sharing a bedroom before this?

2. For each to have their own room, you must buy a place that looks like it has about 10 bedrooms?

Watching a family obscenely overspend on a house they can't afford, only to then find they are immediately going to spend tens of thousands more dollars on remodeling already beautiful rooms... jfc. No wonder they went bankrupt before. 

They spent every last penny to buy the house and then they get a piano, a $7K security system, major renovations, and a club membership.  They should be bankrupt again very quickly. 

On 10/18/2022 at 10:38 AM, qtpye said:

Take a drink every time you hear the word "dumbwaiter".

Do you want us to die of alcohol poisoning?  I assume it's Chekhov's dumbwaiter. 

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I listened to a podcast about the real story about a year ago. Already forgot who actually was writing the letters.  I do remember the story was pretty creepy on its own. I don’t think all the extra weirdness is even necessary. Less than half-way through the episode I figured this was more of an “inspired by” rather than “based on” story.  I also didn’t realize it was Ryan Murphy until his name popped up at the end of the episode. I don’t know if I can continue to watch this. I can’t stand RM and the way every show I’ve seen of his goes off the rails. 

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On 10/22/2022 at 1:16 PM, Whimsy said:

I listened to a podcast about the real story about a year ago. Already forgot who actually was writing the letters.  I do remember the story was pretty creepy on its own. I don’t think all the extra weirdness is even necessary. Less than half-way through the episode I figured this was more of an “inspired by” rather than “based on” story.  I also didn’t realize it was Ryan Murphy until his name popped up at the end of the episode. I don’t know if I can continue to watch this. I can’t stand RM and the way every show I’ve seen of his goes off the rails. 

The real story is still unsolved/letter writer unknown. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Watching this I couldn't help but wonder:  Why do all the shows like this have a husband/father that's a total a-hole with a hair trigger temper? 

Spoiler

I binged the whole series and think it would have been much better if he started out completely calm, reasonable and even-keeled and we got to watch him slowly unravel.  Rather than be a controlling anger monster up front.

I also hated his reaction to his daughter wearing lipstick.  She's 15, a little makeup is more than appropriate.  I was wearing makeup in jr high.

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