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Encyclopedia > An American Family

Considered television's first reality show, An American Family was shot documentary style in 1971 and first aired in the United States on PBS in early 1973. The show was twelve episodes long, edited down from about 300 hours of footage, and chronicled the experiences of a nuclear family, the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California, during a period of time when parents Bill and Pat Loud separated and Pat filed for divorce. Reality television is a genre of television programming in which the fortunes of real life people (as opposed to fictional characters played by actors) are followed. ... A television documentary is a documentary or a series of documentaries that are meant to be broadcasted on television. ... Year 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the 1971 Gregorian calendar. ... Not to be confused with Public Broadcasting Services in Malta. ... Year 1973 (MCMLXXIII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display full calendar) of the 1973 Gregorian calendar. ... The term nuclear family developed in the western world to distinguish the family group consisting of parents (usually a father and mother) and their children, from what is known as an extended family. ... Nickname: Santa Barbara is situated on the southward-facing coast at far right. ... Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Area  Ranked 3rd  - Total 158,302 sq mi (410,000 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 770 miles (1,240 km)  - % water 4. ... For the record label, see Divorce Records. ...

The parents had five children. One of them, Lance Loud, was a gay 20-year-old man who occasionally wore lipstick and women's clothes and took his mother to a drag show in the second episode of the series. Scholars sometimes mention that Lance came out of the closet on TV, but this is technically incorrect—he was simply gay without announcement or drama; his family says that they had known for quite a while. As such, Lance was the first openly gay character on television and has become something of a gay icon. Lance Loud (June 26, 1951–December 22, 2001) was an openly gay columnist. ... Homosexuality refers to sexual interaction and / or romantic attraction between individuals of the same sex. ... Lipstick is a cosmetic product containing pigments, oils, waxes, and emollients that applies color and texture to the lips. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Coming out of the closet (often shortened to coming out in winking reference to the public introduction of debutantes) describes the voluntary public announcement of ones (primarily homosexual or bisexual) sexual orientation or gender identity. ... St. ...

Most notable was when Pat Loud asked her husband for a divorce and to leave the house on camera. Pat famously saying to her husband "you know there's a problem" and Bill Loud responding "What's your problem?". The moment was later chosen as one of the Top 100 Television Moments by TV Guide.

On airing, the show drew over 10 million viewers—phenomenal viewership for PBS standards in 1973 or even today—and drew considerable controversy. The series was widely discussed in the media in 1973, and the Loud family appeared on the cover of the March 12, 1973 issue of Newsweek magazine. Year 1973 (MCMLXXIII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display full calendar) of the 1973 Gregorian calendar. ... The Newsweek logo Newsweek is a weekly news magazine published in New York City and distributed throughout the United States and internationally. ...

The series was parodied in 1979 movie Real Life, in which a narcisstic filmmaker disrupts the filming of such a television series, instituting changes that he says are "good for the series". An American Family was featured in a 2002 television special, in which TV Guide named it one of the best 50 shows of all time. Real Life is a 1979 comedy film. ... TV Guide is the name of two North American weekly magazines about television programming, one in the United States and one in Canada. ...

In 1983, PBS broadcast American Family Revisited, and in 2003 PBS broadcast the show Lance Loud, A Death in An American Family, shot in 2001, visiting Lance and his family again at Lance's request. All participated in the documentary, except brother Grant. Lance was 50 years old, had gone through 20 years of addiction to crystal meth, and was HIV positive and died of hepatitis C that year. The show was billed by PBS as the final episode of An American Family. Year 1983 (MCMLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays the 1983 Gregorian calendar). ... Year 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link displays 2003 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday (link displays the 2001 Gregorian calendar). ... Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant drug which induces a strong feeling of euphoria and is highly psychologically addictive. ... Species Human immunodeficiency virus 1 Human immunodeficiency virus 2 Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS, a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections). ... Hepatitis C is a blood-borne, infectious, viral disease that is caused by a hepatotropic virus called Hepatitis C virus (HCV). ...


Family members

As seen in An American Family, the members of the Loud family are:

Year 1921 (MCMXXI) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar). ... Year 1926 (MCMXXVI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Lance Loud (June 26, 1951–December 22, 2001) was an openly gay columnist. ... Year 1951 (MCMLI) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday (link displays the 2001 Gregorian calendar). ... Year 1953 (MCMLIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1954 (MCMLIV) was a common year (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1955 (MCMLV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays the 1955 Gregorian calendar). ... Year 1957 (MCMLVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1957 Gregorian calendar). ...


"...if there is any good that could possibly come out of this terrible, terrible thing, it is that people will say what a brilliant wonderful boy he was and his death wasn't necessary. That people should have safe sex, that people shouldn't take drugs and I think that's what...the good that might come out of this." Pat Loud on her son's death, in the 2003 documentary A Death in an American Family.

In Lance's final appearance on camera in the 2003 documentary, A Death in an American Family, mother Pat holds him in her arms and he states, "When Louds love, they love long and deep, about six feet deep."

"Television ate my family" -- Lance Loud

"Living in New York, I've become more and more aware that there are other things. If someone gave me a ticket it would just be another excuse and it would be so easy to just go back there and go up to Adivas Beach and just sit there all summer long, see my old friends and all my old enemies. Seeing enemies is much more interesting than seeing friends ... and I have so many enemies in Santa Barbara. Always, always interesting. But I think that ... you know, New York has so many things that really do interest me or that could interest me that for ... for my own good, I think I'll just have to stay. Even if I really don't want to. In fact I guess I really don't. It is so much easier just to go home. I could get a little job and make everyone happy on a day to day type basis and get a little money and live by myself in my own apartment or something ... but I don't think that's what I really want to do. I've always felt that, to be dedicated to life, you have to be really passionate, and so I never really think anything is just ok, I either love something or I just hate it forever, to death." -- Lance Loud at the Chelsea Hotel in narration from Episode 2


  • An American Family: A Televised Life, Jeffrey Ruoff. (University of Minnesota Press; 2002) ISBN 0-8166-3561-7
  • Pat Loud: A Woman's Story, Pat Loud and Nora Johnson. (Coward, McCann & Geoghegan; 1974) ISBN 0-698-10578-8

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Lance Loud! . An American Family | PBS (304 words)
The series challenged conventional views of middle class American family life with its depiction of marital tensions that led to divorce, an elder son's gay lifestyle and the changing values of American families.
TV Guide magazine acknowledged An American Family as the first reality television series and named it among "The 50 Greatest Shows of All Time." Lance Loud, the eldest son of the family, was the first openly gay person to appear on television as an integral member of American family life.
A Death in An American Family is a presentation of WETA and ITVS, and was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Public Broadcasting Service.
Tolerance an American Family Value (806 words)
This is truly an American family value for it allows equal protection of the laws for all families regardless of the makeup.
To be broad-minded is clearly an American family value in that it grants the blessings of liberty to those who may even oppose the broad-minded individual.
The American family value demands for moderation because the dream of the American family value isn’t to define what family is, but to embrace the family as it is today and tomorrow in whatever shape a family is or will become.
  More results at FactBites »



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