Movie Mom

Movie Mom


An American Family (Again): Cinema Verite, the Louds, and the Invention of ‘Reality’ TV

posted by Nell Minow

In 1971, a documentary film-maker named Craig Gilbert approached Pat Loud, a California mother of five, to ask her to allow him to observe her family the way anthropologist Margaret Mead observed the Samoans — and to do it on film, to be broadcast on public television.  300 hours of footage were edited down into twelve episodes, shown in 1973, and it became a sensation.  Part of it was the fascination of the unprecedented format.  This was the show that invented reality television, the idea of taking cameras (and camera operators) into the most personal moments of family life.  And part of it was what was on the screen.  The oldest son, Lance, came out publicly on camera, considered shocking in that era.  The Louds thought that they would be presenting the American dream, but it turned into the American nightmare when after months of filming, Pat told her husband, on camera, that she wanted a divorce.  They ended up on the cover of Newsweek as examples of the family break-ups of the era of self-actualization, open marriages, and what would later be called “The Me Decade.”  Nora Ephron wrote about Pat Loud’s post-series book, “It is impossible to read this book and not suspect that Craig Gilbert knew exactly what he was doing when he picked the Louds, knew after ten minutes with them and the clinking ice in their drinks that he had found the perfect family to show exactly what he must have intended to show all along — the emptiness of American family life.”

YouTube Preview Image

Nearly three decades later, the series is notable for its influence on shows from “The Real World” to “The Hills,” “Jersey Shore,” and all the Kardashians and Housewives  — and YouTube — and for the bigger and still-unresolved issues about how “real” reality television can be, especially when filmed over such a long period of time that not just the cameras but the crew become a part of the story.  Now the Loud experience has come full circle and been turned back into an excellent feature film on HBO with Diane Lane as Pat Loud and James Gandolfini as Craig Gilbert.  Directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, who sensitively portrayed another real-life character with a sometimes-distorted media biography in “American Splendor,” have produced a thoughtful story about the Louds and what they represented.

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

Cinema VeriteCinema Verite TV Schedule


Previous Posts

What's Up With My Family? -- App Helps Middle Schoolers Navigate Life
Middle School Confidential™ 3: What’s Up with My Family? is a new IOS app, the next installment of the series for tweens and teens. The third edition continues the story of Jack, Jen, Chris, Abby, Mateo, and Michelle—a tight-knit group of friends in middle school—who are realizing that growi

posted 3:59:49pm Aug. 20, 2014 | read full post »

The Simpsons Binge Watch: Every Episode Plus the Movie
Get your food delivery menus ready.  Unplug your phone.  All 552 Simpsons episodes will be broadcast in order, starting tomorrow. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq4w74r8HKY#t=27[/youtube] The new season starts September 28.

posted 3:59:35pm Aug. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Bo Svenson
Bo Svenson is an actor, writer, director, judo champion, and, as I was lucky enough to find out, an enthralling guy to talk to, turning an interview into a wide-ranging conversation. Svenson was

posted 3:59:35pm Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Tribute: Don Pardo
Don Pardo's face was not familiar.  But his voice was instantly recognizable.  We mourn the loss of one of the great announcers in broadcast history, who died on Monday at age 96. The cast of "Saturday Night Live," where he served as announcer from the beginning, celebrated his 90th birthday.

posted 12:44:03pm Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Gayle Forman of "If I Stay"
Gayle Forman is the author of If I Stay, the source for this week's movie starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia, a talented young cellist in a coma following a car accident.  As she hovers between life and death, she remembers incidents from her life with her family and with her rock musician boyfrie

posted 8:00:16am Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.