The Loud Liberation: Family, Feminism, and the First Reality Television Show
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My research examines the popular reactions to the 1973 PBS series An American Family, the first reality television show, as a lens to explore the prevailing attitudes of family and gender in 1973. The 1970s were a particularly tumultuous period in American politics and culture. Historical works on the period have focused primarily on the political conservatism which emerged in this decade. Thus, An American Family has most frequently been used to illustrate the pervasive fear of American decline viewed by many as the source of rising conservatism. I challenge this particular interpretation of the significance of An American Family. Rather than focusing, as the majority of historians have, on the negative reactions to the show, I argue that responses to the show's main character, Pat Loud, were generally positive and reflected a growing acceptance of feminism and the possibility of alternative family structures.