The Watcher, Netflix’s latest original series, is nothing short of a must-watch. Sure, the series most likely won’t break any new ground or win any awards, but the series is perfect to binge-watch on a weekend. The Watcher centers around the Brannock family, as they move into a new home in a quiet and safe neighborhood in New Jersey. It isn’t long before the family starts to receive malevolent letters from someone known only as The Watcher. With each letter, the Brannocks grow more and more anxious, surrounded by strange neighbors harboring secrets, meaning anyone could be a suspect.
So far, The Watcher has had a mass viewership, mostly due to audiences being obsessed with true crime stories, as well as the series getting much attention from social media. Although the series hasn’t received the best critical reception, here’s why you should be binge-watching The Watcher.
Ryan Murphy’s Latest Project
The real life case of The Watcher had Ryan Murphy written all over it. Murphy is a notorious writer of such classics as American Horror Story, Ratched, and Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, as well as Glee, which oddly doesn’t fit into his renowned horror repertoire. But the horrific real life case of The Watcher feels directly ripped out of a season from American Horror Story. With this, Ryan Murphy was perfect for the job of bringing this haunting true story to life. Murphy didn’t really need to add much of his depraved creativity to the series; however, we do still get hints into his twisted mind with Murphy directing a few episodes.
Disturbing True Story
Although the series changed and added a few things for dramatic reasons, you may be surprised to hear how much of the series is actually true. For one, all the letters are word-for-word; replications of letters that the real life family received. The neighbors were reportedly just as strange and as creepy as those in the show, The Watcher case is still unsolved, and The Watcher is still unidentified. The series changed things like the family name; the real life family were not called the Brannocks, and Ryan Murphy added a secret tunnel that runs through the neighborhood, which thankfully didn’t happen in real life.
The Watcher sports a brilliant cast, with Naomi Watts, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Coolidge, Margo Martindale, Richard Kind, and Christopher McDonald, just to name a few. The whole cast brought their A-game, but the standout was Bobby Cannavale, who usually stars in supporting roles or as a part of a comedic ensemble in movies like The Other Guys and both Ant-Man movies. But lately, Cannavale has been flexing his dramatic chops in the series Nine Perfect Strangers and the recent Marilyn Monroe biopic, Blonde. The Watcher sees Cannavale deliver one of the best performances of his career, adding many brilliant and needed layers to his complex character.
With Ryan Murphy at the helm, you can always expect twisted and gripping storytelling, and The Watcher is no different. Many of the most intriguing moments of the show happened in real life, most specifically the letters. The letters that the Brannocks received got increasingly more sinister and way more personal, adding to the overall stakes to the series and delivering a brilliant storytelling device that will keep audiences engaged the whole way through.
Sure, The Watcher case may still be unsolved, but the mystery behind who audiences think The Watcher is, is still utterly engaging. The letters spark so many questions, such as who sent them? How does The Watcher know so much? And why does no one else want to help? Similarly, introducing the strange neighbors, who all seem to harbor dark secrets, to throw curveball after curveball will keep audiences invested in the overall mystery. The ending may rub some viewers up the wrong way, but up until that point, there is no denying that no matter what you think of the quality of the show, you cannot deny how investing and engaging the mystery is. While the overall mystery is the most intriguing, there are splatters of other little mysteries and secrets that audiences are dying to get to the bottom of, which the show leaves ambiguous. Such as, Is that really John Graff? Why are the police so bad at their jobs? And what’s the deal with the neighborhood society? Which, by the way, are terrifyingly reminiscent of the antagonists from Hot Fuzz.
Works as a Character Study
Sure, the mystery and disturbing true story may be what draws most audiences to this thrilling series, but The Watcher surprisingly works well as a character study centered around greed and obsession. Greed is the main driving force of the show besides its mystery, with The Watcher themselves even saying “welcome to the product of your greed” in one of the letters. The Watcher delivers an intriguing look at what greed can do to a person, and how it can destroy a family. Likewise, Dean’s obsession with the house and finding out who The Watcher actually is, takes over his whole personality and mind space, causing him to lose sleep, loose out on a promotion, causing Dean to never let the mystery go, even when the Brannocks finally move out and move on with their lives. The Watcher is by no means a work of art, but still no less delivers a layered and very real character study.