Original Episode Guide
Opens with scenes from the last day of filming, December 31, 1971. Pat Loud and four of her children are having a New Year’s Eve party in their Santa Barbara, California, home. Bill and Pat’s marriage has ended in separation. Their eldest son, Lance, is still living in New York. The scene changes to the first days of filming when the family gathers for an early breakfast one morning in mid-May, 1971
Pat Loud visits her son Lance in New York City. She takes a room in his hotel, the Chelsea, and spends a week with him meeting his circle of friends.
Before returning home from her New York trip, Pat stops in Baltimore to check on a shipment of equipment that her husband Bill is expecting for his business. Bill meets her plane when it lands in California; they go out to lunch, during which they discuss their children. Later they attend a dance recital in which their daughters, Delilah and Michele, perform.
Pat returns to her birthplace in Eugene, Oregon, and visits her mother, who still lives there. They drive around town together, stopping at the important places in Pat’s early life and the first years of her marriage. After attending her mother’s birthday party, Pat returns home.
The girls are leaving with Pat for a vacation in Taos, New Mexico; Kevin leaves for Australia with Bill’s business associate; and Lance calls the family from New York.
After Pat returns from Taos with Michele, she has lunch with Bill and again the topic of discussion is their children. Lance is visiting Paris with a friend. A brushfire in the hills threatens the Loud home.
The growing antagonism between Pat and Bill comes out in the open. Grant is criticized by his parents for not working hard enough, and, shortly afterward, gets into an accident while driving home from work.
While Bill is away on a business trip, Pat decides to file for divorce. She spends an evening with her brother and sister-in-law discussing this decision.
Bill returns from his business trip, learns from Pat that she plans to divorce him, and spends the night at a motel. The next day, the Loud children rally around their mother.
Bill looks for an apartment; the children register for their first day of the new school year; and Kevin masterminds a pep rally. Lance is in Copenhagen, Denmark.
After living in New York City and Europe for seven months, Lance returns to his Santa Barbara home for a visit.
Grant and his rock group audition for a job at a Santa Barbara Lounge. Bill meets Delilah in his office and asks her to deliver a pair boots and a dress that he bought for Pat. At the Loud home, Pat tries on Bill’s gifts and decides that she doesn’t like them. Over drinks with a friend, Bill talks about the breakup of his marriage and his feelings about Lance and the other children. Pat also talks about the divorce with two of her friends and reveals her tentative plans for the future.
Video Interview: Alan and Susan Raymond
The Archive of American Television interviewed Alan and Susan Raymond about their lives and work on June 16, 2010. The interview is four hours long and features in-depth discussion of An American Family.
An American Family: Anniversary Edition
40 years since filming, the original filmmakers have edited a new 2-hour feature-length special capturing the most memorable and compelling moments of the landmark series. Site includes a 1973 panel discussion and behind-the-scenes interviews conducted in June 2011.
Photo: Filmmakers and Family
Alan and Susan Raymond, Michele and Patricia Loud
Lance Loud! A Death in An American Family
2003 PBS documentary about Lance Loud. Site includes photos, letters, and more information about Lance’s life, works, and death.
Film historian Jeffrey Ruoff has two of his chapters on An American Family online:
“Can a Documentary Be Made of Real Life?”: The Reception of An American Family
“A Bastard Union of Several Forms”: Style and Narrative in An American Family
Time Magazine 1973 – Television: The Ultimate Soap Opera
In many ways An American Family is a soap opera. The father, William Loud, 50, is a handsome, successful businessman in flossy Santa Barbara, Calif. The mother, Pat, 45, is equally handsome, with a touch of sophistication her husband lacks. Their five children—Lance, 20; Kevin, 18; Grant, 17; Delilah, 16; and Michele, 14—are bright, good-looking … Read More