TV Family: Behind the Scenes of the First Reality Television Program

n 1960, NBC aired what some consider to be the first "reality television" show in American broadcast history. Hosted by Jane Wyatt of Father Knows Best fame, and billing itself as a "new kind of visual reporting," it was called Story of a Family, and it purported to document the day-to-day lives of the 10-member Robertson family of Amarillo, Texas. While the show has since faded from public memory, media scholars and television historians now recognize its significance as a precursor to the unscripted television programming that dominates American television today. In TV Family, filmmaker Ethan Thompson draws on the recollections of several of the children featured in the show to offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the making of Story of a Family. Weaving personal anecdotes from the Robertsons with commentary from TV historians and cultural critics, Thompson tells the story of how the show's producers carefully choreographed the way they wanted the family to appear to the American public -- all in the name of authenticity. The result is an eye-opening look at one of the television industry's earliest attempts to shape the "reality" of family life in commercially viable ways. Ideal for courses that look at media culture, commercial television, communication, documentary, and television history.

Duration: 56 min
ISBN: 1-932869-97-2
Date Produced: 2015
Subtitles: English