An American Family’s 35th anniversary was this week

On Tuesday, with the TV-watching world focused on the debut of American Idol 7, a significant anniversary passed: It was the 35th anniversary of the debut of An American Family, the show that inspired The Real World, which in turn inspired most of what we now consider to be reality television. The series debuted Jan. 15, 1973, and while shot like a documentary, it was essentially a 12-hour soap opera starring a real family.

While Amazon has a product page for a DVD of the series, one has not yet been released, nor has there been any announcement of an impending DVD release. However, there is a fantastic book about the show, An American Family: A Televised Life; Jeffrey Ruoff’s detailed look at the series isn’t a substitute for watching it, but does explain all you’d want to know about its production and reception.

Five years ago, just before the series’ 30th anniversary, PBS aired a documentary about the final years and death of Lance Loud, one of the show’s stars. As Thomas Heald reminds us, the show also followed “parents Bill and Pat and their kids Grant, Kevin, Lance, and Michelle,” and during one episode, Pat told Bill that she wanted a divorce, captivating the nation.

The Quest ends its journey stronger than it began

Verlox from The Quest

A review of the finale of summer's best reality series, which wasn't always perfect but was thoroughly entertaining right down to the finish, which included phenomenal challenges and special effects. Will ABC give it a second season?

Plus: an interview with the actor who played Verlox and the ogre.


Shark Tank is getting a spin-off

Shark Tank

Companies that get deals on the show will be followed for this new spin-off.

Also: Before the show began, Shark Barbara Corcoran was cast and then replaced--but then she sent this amazing e-mail and won the job.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.