On Thursday evening, January 11, 1973 at 9:00 p.m., Americans stepped into the home of the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California. Chronicling the lives of its family members, the 12-hour documentary series made parents Pat and Bill Loud and their five children Lance, Delilah, Grant, Kevin and Michele Loud household names.1971 WNET
During the seven months that they lived in front of the camera, viewers watched dramatic life events unfold, including Pat asking for a separation from her husband Bill, and the bohemian New York lifestyle of their gay son, Lance.
Unlike most documentaries of its day, An American Family had no host, no interviews, and almost no voice-over narration. Producer Craig Gilbert presented the family's daily life — as captured by filmmakers Alan Raymond behind the camera, and Susan Raymond covering sound — in the style of cinéma vérité. It was the most controversial and talked-about television program of its era.
Reflections on the Making of the Series A 1973 panel discussion and filmmaker interviews from 2011.
PBS was then a fledgling "fourth network" joining CBS, NBC and ABC, and despite its non-commercial profile was looking for blockbuster hits, according to Bill Kobin, Vice President for programming at NET at the time. In the course of its 12 week run, An American Family riveted the country and drew in a record 10 million viewers a week. 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, "maybe as important for our time as were the invention of drama and the novel for earlier generations."
Now, 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. See for yourself why An American Family is one of the 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time (TV Guide, 2002).
An American Family: Anniversary Edition was produced by Alan Raymond and Susan Raymond, edited by Alan Raymond and Charlotte Mangin served as the supervising producer. The original series was conceived and produced by Craig Gilbert. At WNET, Stephen Segaller was the executive in charge of production and Jane Buckwalter was the director of programming operations. At WLIW, John Servidio was the general manager.
Visit http://www.thirteen.org/american-family/ for additional video from the original series, plus extras.
See http://www.pbs.org/lanceloud/ for more information about the oldest son in An American Family.