On Thursday, January 11, 1973, the first broadcast of An American Family changed television history forever. A 12-hour documentary series on PBS, An American Family chronicled seven months in the day-to-day lives of the William C. Loud family of Santa Barbara, California. An audience of ten million viewers watched in fascination the unfolding real-life drama of Bill and Pat Loud, and their five children, Lance, Kevin, Grant, Delilah and Michele.
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. Prior to An American Family, the staples of television family programs such as The Brady Bunch profiled a model of the perfectly happy family that seldom faced any crisis. The broadcast of An American Family in 1973 proved to be a groundbreaking watershed that forever changed American television programming and led the way to more complex family portraits such as Roseanne, One Day At A Time and even The Simpsons.
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. Alan and Susan Raymond, the filmmakers of the original An American Family PBS series, remained friends with the Loud family and have continued to chronicle their lives for the past 30 years. They produced and directed An American Family Revisited in 1983 and bring audiences this "final episode" of the Loud family saga.