American Love Stories

Episode Descriptions
TV SeriesStoriesDialoguesDig Deeper


Videos & CDs


Here are the descriptions for each of the 10 episodes of the documentary, An American Love Story. The titles for each show come out of sayings that Karen and Bill use ("It's My Job", "We Were Never Ozzie and Harriet") as well as songs that occur within the natural drama ("It's Another New Year and I Ain't Gone").

Show 1: "Welcome to America"
Location: Queens and upstate New York
"Welcome to America" goes full circle with the Wilson-Sims family -- from Karen and Bill's first encounter to their eldest daughter Cicily's entrance into Colgate University. Shocked by her first experiences on the predominantly white campus, Cicily wonders why she should have to choose between black and white. It is a question her parents have been asking for thirty years.

Show 2: "A Piece of the Puzzle is Missing"
Location: Queens, New York; and Columbus and Marion, Ohio
A powerful episode about letting go - and holding on. Cicily's plans to spend a semester in Nigeria divide her parents. Her father relishes her opportunity to explore the land of her ancestors; her mother struggles with the distance that will separate them. As Cicily's departure looms closer, Karen, grappling with her own medical problems, becomes increasingly ill. Karen's difficult times provide a stark contrast to her daughter's new opportunities.

Show 3: "I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up"
Location: Nigeria
Cicily's struggle with her racial identity comes to a head in Africa. Her group from Colgate University splits along racial lines. Cicily is stuck in the middle, not wanting to choose between the two. Complicating matters, she's fallen in love with a Nigerian, Tony, who perceives her as white because of her light skin. With her parents at home, she must face the world, and its complicated views of race, alone.

Show 4: "It's Another New Year and I Ain't Gone"
Location: Queens, New York
The transition from Africa back to New York is tough for Cicily, who feels changed by her experiences. She's matured, and in her mind, her parents just don't get it. Compounding the situation, it's the holidays, her grandparents are visiting, and she doesn't feel well. Though she feels like she has become an adult, to her worried parents - who must rush her to the hospital - she is still very much their child.

Show 5: "Chaney & The Boy"
Location: Queens, New York
Ah, the trials of parenting. As their youngest child, Chaney, matures, Bill and Karen must determine what is right. Though she is only 12, she looks older than her years. Feeling the first pangs of love, Chaney wants to "go on a date". Bill wants to protect his youngest; Karen is excited about the changes in her life. And like most her age, Chaney wishes her parents would leave her alone.

Show 6: "You and Me Against the World"
Location: Hamilton, New York; and Florida
Returning to Colgate University, Cicily finds herself further ostracized by the black community on campus. Yet, due to her experiences in Nigeria, she is even less able to deal with her white classmates. Ultimately she must figure out how to survive in a world defined by categories that do not include her. Meanwhile, Karen goes to visit her mother in Florida where she doesn't feel comfortable bringing Bill and the kids.

Show 7: "True Love"
Location: Queens and upstate New York
A celebration of new beginnings. Nothing could prevent Karen from attending Cicily's graduation day, not even having to face immediate surgery. As Karen grapples with recovery and the realization that she'll no longer be able to have children, Bill nurses her back to health. Both must settle into their changing lives, as their eldest daughter becomes the first child in the family line to graduate college.

Show 8: "Marion Truth"
Location: Marion, Ohio
Returning home to Marion, Ohio, Bill confronts the past he left many years ago. His two children from a teenage relationship, Alton and Tina, are adults now with all the responsibilities that go along with it. Bill's son, Alton, is facing imprisonment. While Bill was able to save himself by leaving Marion, he wonders if he'll be able to save his son.

Show 9: "It's My Job"
Location: Queens, New York
Struggling to find a job that means something to her, Cicily's days are spent scouring want-ads and hanging out at home. Tension mounts with her father as he offers more advice than she cares to hear. Bill's own career troubles complicate matters. Bill begins drinking more and more. Meanwhile, Karen takes Cicily away for the weekend to bolster her self esteem. Ultimately, Cicily finds a job and Bill faces the fact that it is time to change his life.

Show 10: "We Were Never Ozzie & Harriet"
Location: Marion and Prospect, Ohio
Twenty-five years after meeting, Bill and Karen decide to attend Karen's high-school reunion. After all these years, they will face the people who have ostracized them in the past. The trip home fills them with questions. Still together after nearly three decades, they wonder how things have changed, if at all.

Partners   Produced by Web Lab

Copyright © 1999 by Zohe Film Productions and Web Lab