Saturday, April 30, 2011

An American Family

In early 1973 An American Family first aired in the United States on PBS. It consisted of 12 episodes edited down from 300 hours of footage. The show followed the Loud family of Santa Barbara and is considered one of the first examples of reality TV. The series showcased the Loud's turbulent experiences during a period when the parents of the Loud family, Pat and Bill separated and Pat filed for divorce. Bill was guilty of infidelity and Lance Loud, the oldest of the family announced that he was gay. On the surface you would think that they were a normal American 70's family who handled their problems with composure. But really it was the exact opposite. The family was going through difficult times and the cameras did not help. When the series aired the family was devastated by the public's response. One critic called the family “affluent zombies,” and the Times described Lance Loud, the gay son, as “camping and queening about like a pathetic court jester, a Goya-esque emotional dwarf.” The Louds came out and said the series destroyed their family and it emphasized the negative aspects of the family and its relationships. Craig Gilbert, the creator of An American Family remembers getting a late-night phone call from Pat after she had read the first of many embarrassing and negative articles that would be written about her family. “Pat was screaming,” Gilbert said. “She’d taken a below-the-belt hit, and it hurt. That, right there, was the beginning of my own confusion. What have I done? What do I do?” He paused. “I’ve never resolved it. I didn’t know what I had wrought. I still don’t.” Fast forward 38 years and Cinema Verite premiers on HBO on April 23, 2011. The Louds were reportedly unhappy with the script, ended up accepting a financial settlement from HBO for agreeing not to discuss it publicly. The movie stars Diane Lane, Tim Robbins, and James Gandolfini. It follows a fictionalized account of the production of an American Family. I suggest you watch it, I haven't seen it but it looks very interesting and captures the 70s. I want to see it and I hope after this you do too.

(I wanted to post the trailer for Cinema Verite but cannot find it, sorry.)

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