Monday, January 12, 2004

American Dreams: A show worth watching

For those of you who long for the good old days of wholesome family dramas like Little House on the Prairie and the Waltons, American Dreams (airing Sunday nights at 8 on NBC) may be just what you are looking for. American Dreams is centered around the Pryor family. The Pryors are a working class, Catholic family in Philly in the mid ‘60’s. The Pryor family consists of Jack and Helen, a couple married for nearly twenty years and still very much in love. They have four children, J.J., Meg, Patty and Will. Four of those children are in Catholic school. J.J. is a Marine.

I’m sure that part of my fascination with this show stems from the fact that I graduated from a Catholic high school in Pennsylvania. However, I think there is genuine quality in this show. The acting is good, the soundtrack is great, and the writing is insightful and poignant. As the Pryors experience the turbulent sixties, the issues they confront – including birth control, changing sexual mores, racism and the Vietnam War – are dealt with in a frank and yet entirely non-cynical way. A rare combination in the modern popular culture.

This show values innocence, traditional family values and faith in God rather than mocking those things as absurd demonstrations of naivety. Earlier this season when one of the teenaged characters decided to have sex with her serious boyfriend, she encourages her best friend Meg not to follow her example. When Mrs. Pryor's boss offers her a promotion at her part-time job, Helen declines the career advance because she realizes that her family is suffering from her absence. And this week’s episode faded to black as the Pryors held hands around the dinner table and concluded their prayer with the words, “We ask these things in Christ’s name. Amen.”

All in all, American Dreams is a well-acted and well-written drama that is both entertaining and emotionally stirring.

If any of you would like to check out the show this week and would like a little background info then please contact Wild Banshee.