Two American Families Preview(0:31) Bill Moyers chronicles two ordinary families

What Happened to the American Dream?

by
Since 1992, Bill Moyers has been following the story of two ordinary, hard-working families in Milwaukee — one black, one white — as they battle to keep from sliding into poverty. A remarkable portrait of perseverance, Two American Families, which airs July 9, raises unsettling questions about the changing nature of the U.S. economy and the fate of a declining middle class. Check your local listings here.

It’s a central premise of the American dream: If you’re willing to work hard, you’ll be able to make a living and build a better life for your children. But what if working hard isn’t enough to ensure success — or even the basic necessities of daily life?

FRONTLINE’s Two American Families follows two ordinary families who have spent the past 20 years in an extraordinary battle to keep from sliding into poverty.

The film, a collaboration with veteran PBS journalist Bill Moyers, who has followed the Stanleys and the Neumanns over the years, raises unsettling questions about the changing nature of the American economy and the fate of a declining middle class.

“He will not be able to see the retirement, you know, that he probably would hope for when he was working at A.O. Smith,” say Keith Stanley, the son of Claude Stanley who was laid off from a steady, good paying job in the early ’90s. “That’s just not a reality. My heart goes out to that generation that was promised something from America, by America, that they would have a better life and that’s not the case anymore.”

FRONTLINE hosted a special preview and discussion of the film to explore what happened to the American dream, and whether current policies are enough to help the millions of Americans living on the edge of poverty.

Guest panelists included Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Tom Casciato and Kathleen Hughes, who produced Two American Families; Erin Currier, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Economic Mobility Project; Margaret Simms, a senior fellow at The Urban Institute; Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the new book Who Stole the American Dream; and Scott Winship, fellow, Brookings Institution.The discussion was moderated by David Fanning, executive producer of FRONTLINE.

Funding for this event was provided by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

blog comments powered by Disqus

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

RECENT STORIES

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS
Frontline Journalism Fund

Supporting Investigative Reporting

Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.
PBSCPBMacArthur FoundationPark FoundationFord Foundationwyncote

FRONTLINE   Watch FRONTLINE   About FRONTLINE   Contact FRONTLINE
Privacy Policy   Journalistic Guidelines   PBS Privacy Policy   PBS Terms of Use   Corporate Sponsorship
FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.
Web Site Copyright ©1995-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.