After reading The Cut’s 2018 article, The Haunting of a Dream House, Ryan Murphy thought about his family’s well-being. The idea of ​​safety and what people are willing to do to protect their loved ones motivated Murphy to adapt the article for Netflix, which became a true crime series. The Observer.

“That’s what drew me to this story because I thought when I read that story that was in The Cut, I instantly thought of my own family,” Murphy said in an interview with Netflix. “And I think the idea of ​​how we live in the world now, everybody around the world, I guess, seems under attack in some ways, and that idea of, ‘How do I keep my family safe?’ was something that I was instantly motivated by.”

Co-created by Murphy and Ian Brennan, The Observer follows Nora (Naomi Watts) and Dean (Bobby Cannavale) Braddock, a married couple who move into a beautiful home with their two children in Westfield, New Jersey. After arriving at the idyllic house, the Braddocks begin receiving anonymous letters from a stalker who goes by the alias “The Watcher”. In the first letter, the “Watcher” threatens to kidnap Braddock’s two children. As more and more ominous letters arrive, Nora and Dean try to identify their stalker, but as they delve into the mystery, they begin to question everyone around them, including their nosy neighbors.

Murphy sat down with the women of the cast The Observer to discuss the themes of the series and their reasons for participating in the project. The women include Watts, Noma Dumezweni, Mia Farrow, Margot Martindale and Jennifer Coolidge. Murphy explained how each of the women was his first choice for each particular role. Many of the cast members were unaware of the story until they read the article. As with Murphy, the article hooked the actors with its true and terrifying premise.

Ryan Murphy talks to the women of The Watcher | Netflix

“I got to read the article and I was like, ‘Oh my God. I have no idea. This is a true story. And I liked that,” Dumezweni said. “But the fact that you can feel so insecure. This is your forever home. And even just to look, oh my God. This is my horror.”

After signing a massive five-year, $300 million development deal with Netflix in 2018, Murphy’s shows like the politician Ratched, and Hollywood failed to win over critics and audiences. Over the past two months, Murphy has been on top of the streaming world with two massive hits, The Observer and Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. The Observer has logged over 273 hours watched, and Dahmer became Netflix’s second most popular series of all time, with over 856 million hours watched.

Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale walk in unison in a scene from Netflix's The Watcher.
The Observer. (Left to right) Naomi Watts as Nora Brannock, Bobby Cannavale as Dean Brannock in episode 101 of The Watcher. Kr. Eric Liebowitz/Netflix © 2022

Murphy explained how he only does things he wants to watch, and with his last two shows, it’s clear that viewers love true crime, especially if it causes controversy.

“I only do things I want to watch. I have a very strict rule about that and I always have,” Murphy said. “And I always think that the more specific something is, the more universal it becomes.”

Stream all episodes on The Observer on Netflix.

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