"TV Family recovers the history of a long forgotten television special, Story of a Family. In so doing, it not only reimagines the origins of reality TV by skillfully demonstrating how the thematic preoccupations, story construction, and presentation of the family on contemporary shows were anticipated by this 1960 documentary; it also remarkably reconstructs what this special meant for the family at its center and illuminates how the show itself reveals the limits of how American families -- even 'real' American families -- could be portrayed at this moment in the medium's development. It is an absorbing, fascinating text that provides important insights into both television history and contemporary television practices."
Allison Perlman | Assistant Professor in the Department of Film & Media Studies at the University of California - Irvine
"A thoughtful and fascinating account of television’s construction of family at the dawn of the 1960s, and an engaging revisiting of the medium’s first reality show subjects from several decades before reality shows."
Jonathan Gray | Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University
of Wisconsin, Madison
"A marvelous slice of television history. Ethan Thompson has brilliantly examined the making of a fascinating, forgotten 1960 NBC documentary on family life. Thompson's insightful interviews with family members and media experts peel back layers of meaning, exploring tensions of the era surrounding documentary production, representation and American ideology. Will be required viewing for everyone interested in the history of television, gender studies and American Culture."
Kathy Fuller-Seeley | William P. Hobby Professor of Communication, Graduate Advisor and GSC chair at the University of Texas at Austin
"This is a fascinating exploration of a long-overlooked program that forecasts our current reality TV craze while harking back to the old March of Time factual recreations. The Robertson family of Amarillo, Texas were the Loud family of their day. This heartfelt and moving documentary cuts between past and present to give us a glimpse not only of what one 1960 American family was like, but what early television was like, and how its version of American family life contrasted in striking ways with the reality."
Michele Hilmes | Professor Emerita | Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
“Informative and engaging. TV Family presents a really insightful blend of archival material of Story of a Family, first person reflections by the family members who were involved in the show, and critical analysis, by media scholars but also by some of the family members who offer very thoughtful and reflective analyses. It provides audiences with an important piece of TV history, one from which my own students, who think reality TV is a recent phenomenon, will benefit. The documentary successfully provides a social, cultural and historical context for the original show, locating it not just in TV history but also as a product of its own specific cultural moment."
Susan Scheibler | Associate Professor of Film and TV Studies at Loyola Marymount University