Before there was JWoww or Omarosa or Survivor, in the winter of 1973, America was introduced to the concept of reality television by a soft-spoken upper-middle-class family, who, for 12 weeks, the nation watched eating dinner, sunbathing by their pool, and, before our very eyes, slowly disintegrating.

Called An American Family, the PBS documentary series mesmerized the nation with a peek into the lives of the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California. The show became the centerpiece of a three-month-long national conversation, with viewers first engrossed in and then horrified by the charming family who became a symbol for all that had gone wrong with the country.

Nearly 40 years later, the Louds are back, this time as docudrama, in Cinema Verite, a made-for-HBO-movie that restages the filming of An American Family. Starring Diane Lane and Tim Robbins as Pat and Bill Loud, the clan’s matriarch and patriarch, and James Gandolfini as Craig Gilbert—the series’ producer whose insertion of himself into the family’s story off the cameras would be the subject of controversy for years to come—the film purports to tell the real tale of manipulation behind the series.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast

TV’s Forgotten Reality Show | 2011 | elsewhere writings | Tags: , | Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *