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An American Family

An American Family is the first reality show, shot in 1971 and aired in the United States on PBS in 1973. The show was twelve episodes long, edited down from about 300 hours of footage, and chronicles the experience of a nuclear family going through divorce. The parents had several children and one of them, Lance Loud, was an openly gay[?] young man who wore occasionally wore lipstick and women's clothes and took his mother to a drag show[?] in episode two of the series. Scholars sometimes mention that Lance came out of the closet on TV, but this is technically incorrect--he was simply gay without announcement or drama; his family says that they had known for quite awhile. As such, Lance is the first openly gay[?] character on television and has become something of a gay icon.

On airing, the show drew 10 million viewers--phenomenal viewership for PBS even in 2003--and drew considerable controversy.

In 1983 PBS broadcast American Family Revisited; and in 2003 PBS broadcast the show Lance Loud, visiting Lance and his family again at Lance's request: Lance was 50 years old, had gone through 20 years of addiction to crystal meth[?], and was HIV positive and dying of Hepatitis C. As of 2003, neither An American Family nor American Family Revisited was in distribution and so they were not available for legal purchase or renting.

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