Netflix’s “The Watcher” Is Not Worth Watching


“The Watcher” entertains, but loses focus. (courtesy of Instagram)

Shortly after the release of “The Watcher,” the series rose to first place in the Top 10 Shows in the United States on Netflix. “The Watcher” is a Netflix Original series that follows the Brannock family as they move into their dream home turned nightmare. The show is based off of an unsolved true crime story from 2014, when a family received threatening letters from a self-proclaimed watcher.

The show begins with Dean and Nora Brannock (played by Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts), as they tour a stunning mansion in the suburbs. As their children grow up, the couple looks to move out of the city and into a quiet and quaint town with space for their kids to play outside. However, once they move into the house, the idyllic neighborhood begins to sour. Dean bickers with neighbors Mo (esteemed character address Margot Martindale) and Mitch (Richard Kind) about their property lines and is confronted by Pearl (Mia Farrow) about their various renovations.

As the family begins to settle, they receive a letter in the mail from the watcher, asking about the intentions of the family’s residence at 675 Boulevard. While off-putting, the letter, at first, seems harmless. However, towards the end of the first episode, the family receives another, more sinister letter that details private information about the family, like the names and hobbies of the Brannock children. Throughout the seven episodes of the season, the Brannocks attempt to identify the sender of the letters through various investigations.

While the premise of the show seems captivating, the season had too many episodes for viewers to be fully engaged. Each episode is about 45 minutes long, and with seven episodes in the season, each episode reached a lull at a certain point. Instead of five, short jam-packed episodes, there were seven long, mediocre ones. Each episode started and ended on a cliff-hanger, but the bits and pieces in the middle seem unnecessary, especially when it comes to relationship drama between characters. 

While watching, I never really felt on the edge of my seat, because each shocking twist was interrupted before finding out how new information would come into play. While this may work in favor of some shows, it did not aid the plot of “The Watcher.”

Additionally, a true crime story, like “The Watcher,” has an opportunity to delve into the psychological effects of such circumstances, and the show never took full advantage of this. Instead, the show seemed to grasp at straws and dip its toes in a number of genres. The show introduces an unnecessary backstory about the house that seems to establish a paranormal undertone before quickly switching gears and ignoring these details.

Lastly, the main characters of “The Watcher,” like Nora, are, for the most part, uninteresting and unexciting. Dean, on the other hand, is an unlikeable character, and he tries to take control of things in a very off-putting way. He makes poor financial decisions without telling his wife and tells his 15-year-old daughter that she can’t wear lipstick. Moments like these, both large and small, create a distaste for the character. The plot of the show makes it very easy for viewers to sympathize with the main characters, but Dean’s character seems to reverse this effect. Many of the problems in his personal life are self-inflicted, which creates little-to-no empathy for him. 

The side characters in the show are the most interesting and compelling characters the show has to offer. Each of the neighbors has an odd disposition that makes viewers want to see more of their quirks and weird behaviors. However, even these actors’ appearances do not seem like they are used to their fullest potential. The show was very focused on the Brannocks, and while there were featured roles outside of the family, all of them seemed a bit underdeveloped. 

Overall, “The Watcher” isn’t necessarily bad, but for a show that seems so intriguing, it was woefully mediocre. If you’re looking for a show to watch in the background or to kill time, you may find it enjoyable. And if you’re really into true crime – or just looking to get in the Halloween spirit – go for it. Just don’t set your expectations too high. And for future reference: don’t take Netflix’s Top 10 Shows list to heart.oif