These days, television sucks. Everything labeled “real” is fabricated, and everything fictional lacks any true backbone.
“American Dreams” was a TV show, however, that I found to be extremely informative AND entertaining.
Here, I’ll examine some facts about the show, why it was important and why it should have stayed on the air.
“American Dreams” was a TV show on NBC, produced by Dirk Clark Productions and Once a Frog Productions. It was created by Jonathan Prince, developed by Josh Goldstein and executive produced by Jonathan Prince and Dick Clark. It ran from September 2002 to March 2005, running for three seasons and 61 episodes, and airing on Sunday nights at 8/7 central.
The show was a family drama, revolving around the lives of teens and adults in Philadelphia, PA during the 1960s.
The main family of the sitcom was the Pryor family, starring Brittany Snow as Meg, Will Estes as JJ, Gail O’Grady as Helen, Tom Verica as Jack, Sarah Ramos as Patty and Ethan Dampf as Will. Other character’s include Meg’s friend Roxanne, played by Vanessa Lengies, JJ’s girlfriend Beth, played by Rachel Boston and Jack’s co-worker Henry Walker, played by Jonathan Adams.
Although the show often received some criticism due to inaccuracy of events, what’s important to note is that all of these events HAVE happened, but perhaps did not happen in the correct time frame. For example, Meg is given a 45′ of “Mr. Tambourine Man” in 1963, although Bob Dylan didn’t release the song until 1964. Still, the show was informative in showing how life was growing up in the 60s. While it contained many issues revolved around family that are still present today, it also featured social and political events going on at the time, such as public riots, the Vietnam War, the draft, NASA, racism in the workplace, medical woes of the time (such as polio) and the overall tension between different groups of people, such as blacks and whites, those for the war and against the war, etc.
“American Dreams” also portrayed the music of the times. As much of the TV show’s setting was in Philadelphia, much of it also took place on “American Bandstand,” which characters Meg and Roxanne frequented often. To portray bands and musicians of the time, the show would cast popular and up-and-coming musicians of the current time period. For example, in season one, Michelle Branch performed as Leslie Gore, Usher as Marvin Gaye, Vanessa Carlton as Dusty Springfield and Third Eye Blind as The Kinks. In season two, Kelly Clarkson performed as Brenda Lee, Brad Paisley as Ricky Nelson, Jason Mraz as Dion DiMucci and Wyclef Jean as Curtis Mayfield. Season three cast Fountains of Wayne as The Hollies, John Legend as Stevie Wonder, Phantom Planet as the Zombies and JoJo as Linda Ronstadt. In 2003, a soundtrack was released which featured some of the covers mentioned above, as well as hits from the 60s by original artists, such as “Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel, “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks, “That’s How Strong my Love Is” by Otis Redding and “She’s Not There” by the Zombies. The show’s theme song “Generation” is performed by Emerson Hart of the band Tonic.
Between seasons one and three, ratings dropped from 9.98 million viewers to 7.20 million viewers. The show at first competed with others like “Extreme Makeover” and “Cold Case,” while when it moved from Sunday to Wednesday nights, it still competed with “Survivor” and “Lost.” Overall, despite supporting fan mail it was confirmed in April 2005 that the show was canceled due to low ratings.
If the show was brought back, it would not be hard to continue where it left off, as the show indefinitely took place in the 60s. However, I’m sure fans might not be too pleased if different actors were cast.
You can view season one of “American Dreams” on DVD, which was released in 2004 and includes 25 episodes, audio commentaries, 250 rock n’ roll hits and a music video with Stacie Orrico and cast. Although producer Prince insists seasons two and three will be released, as of May 2010, nothing has been scheduled yet.