It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not in The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window. The bizarre murder mystery satire constantly plays with the line between reality and hallucination, leaving viewers just as unsure about what’s really going on as the series’ wine-addled main character, Anna. But surprisingly, one of the show’s most fake-sounding elements isn’t made up at all. After Anna reveals her diagnosis, viewers will probably be left wondering if ombrophobia is real, or just a convenient device The Woman in the House created to aid its central conceit. Here’s the real deal about the condition.
Anna doesn’t exactly make the best first impression on new neighbor Neil when he moves across the street from her. When she set out to bring him one of her famous casseroles as a welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift, it suddenly began to rain and Anna passed out in the middle of the street. Neil was able to get her back inside, where she revealed to him that she suffers from ombrophobia, an irrational fear of the rain. She developed the debilitating condition after the murder of her daughter, since it was raining the last time she saw her.
Anna’s ombrophobia quickly became a hugely important factor in the show’s pivotal scene. At the start of the series, Anna believes she is seeing Neil’s girlfriend Lisa being murdered through her window. Anyone else would be able to rush across the street and try to save Lisa, while also discovering the murderer and basically closing the case. But because it’s raining at the time of the murder, Anna can only watch from her window, too petrified to leave her house, and therefore she spends the rest of the season trying to investigate what happened.
As outlandish as it may seem in the show, ombrophobia actually is a real condition. Like Anna, people really can develop an irrational fear of the rain if rainfall was closely associated with a traumatic event, according to Psych Times. Although Anna’s fainting may have been a bit extreme, rain can trigger intense panic attacks in ombrophobes. The most common symptom is anxiety, and an obsession with checking the weather forecast and refusing to go outside if there’s a potential it’ll rain.
Not all of Anna’s quirks make much realistic sense (how many casserole dishes does this women own?!), but surprisingly enough, her ombrophobia isn’t made up for the show.
The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window is streaming on Netflix now.