Originally aired on public television in 1973, An American Family was the most controversial and talked-about television program for its time. In the course of its three-month run, the 12-part series riveted the country. In the years since it was first broadcast, the series has become the subject of lengthy articles and reviews, including panel discussions with anthropologist Margaret Mead, who speculated that An American Family could be the beginning of a new way to explore the complexities of contemporary reality. In 2002, TV Guide named An American Family one of the Top 50 Greatest Shows of All Time.
An American Family stepped into the home of the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California, chronicling the lives of its members. The series made parents Pat and Bill Loud and their five children Lance, Delilah, Grant, Kevin and Michele Loud household names. During the seven months that they lived under the microscope of the camera, viewers watched significant life moments including Pat Loud asking for a separation from her husband Bill Loud and the New York lifestyle of their gay son, Lance.
Unlike most documentaries of its day, An American Family had no host, no interviews and little voice-over narration. Filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond portrayed everyday life without embellishment. The first episode was broadcast by PBS on Thursday evening, January 11, 1973 at 9:00 p.m.
Beginning Saturday, April 23, at 11 p.m. on THIRTEEN, viewers will have a chance to watch all of An American Family, the original 12-hour reality series that sparked a new television genre on public television, not seen in its entirety for more than 20 years. The program will be shown again in a 12-hour marathon on public television’s WORLD channel on Sunday, April 24 at noon.
Conceived and produced by Craig Gilbert. Filmmakers are Alan Raymond, camera and Susan Raymond, sound. Associate producer is Susan Lester. Film editor is Eleanor Hamerow. Sound editor is Thomas Halpin. Executive producer is Curtis W. Davis.