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.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.

Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

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.