Fall TV Preview

The Watcher: Ryan Murphy Attempts to Sell You His Netflix Limited Series With Jennifer Coolidge-Hosted 'Open House'

The first bit of marketing for Ryan Murphy’s limited series The Watcher is a teaser in the truest sense of the word. It’s also a choice.

Instead of a traditional trailer, Netflix offers a three-minute “open house” hosted by realtor Karen Calhoun (played by The White Lotus‘ Jennifer Coolidge). The bit is played almost entirely straight… except for a couple of peculiar moments that point to something far more sinister. Take, for instance, when Karen suggests that you can fit an entire human inside the house’s dumbwaiter. Or when she refuses to open the bedroom curtains to keep all the “weird neighbors” from looking in….

Co-created by Ian Brennan (Ratched, The Politician) and premiering this fall (release date TBA), The Watcher stars Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire) and Naomi Watts (also collaborating with Murphy on FEUD Season 2) as marrieds Nora and Dean Brannock. They have “just purchased their dream home in the idyllic suburb of Westfield, New Jersey, but after putting all of their savings into closing the deal they soon realize the neighborhood is less than welcoming,” according to the official logline. “There’s a kooky older woman named Pearl (Mia Farrow) and her brother Jasper (Terry Kinney), who sneaks into the Brannocks’ house and hides in their dumbwaiter (a ha!). There’s Karen (Coolidge), the realtor and an old acquaintance of Nora’s, who makes them feel like they don’t really belong, and nosy neighbors Mitch (Richard Kind) and Mo (Margo Martindale), who don’t seem to understand property lines.

“Their icy welcome quickly turns into a full-blown living hell,” we’re told, “when ominous letters from someone calling themself ‘The Watcher’ start arriving, terrorizing the Brannocks to their breaking point as the neighborhood’s sinister secrets come spilling out.” (The series is based on a true story, which you can read more about here.)

The marketing campaign for The Watcher got underway in Los Angeles earlier this week — and it’s so deceptive that it managed to fool One Day at a Time executive producer Mike Royce, who chronicled his confusion in a very amusing Twitter thread: