I just happen to love Pat Loud. I remember when the show came out and my folks were going through a divorce. Her take on how her life worked out is fascinating. She is a strong woman who is the "mother of all reality television." Too bad she hasn't been able to profit from the shows they have today. When they asked her if, after all the pain the series caused, she would join a current reality show, Pat said, "Honey, I'm a whore. I'd ask how much." Hysterical. And that's Pat. She's still a funny, interesting, stylish, highly intelligent individual. I'm glad she and Bill got back together again.
I'm the same age group as the kids in the Loud family, and when the television series "An American Family" ran on public television in 1973, I was glued to the set. I read lots of articles about them, and was anxious to read Pat's book when it was published. And, at the time, I found it honest, sassy in tone, and interesting as the whole phenomenon of the series was.
Recently - almost 40 years later - I happened across a copy and decided to re-read it. And was quite surprised to find it as good now as I found it then.
In some ways the Loud family was "typical." Parents Bill and Pat married after World War 2. Young and in love they began to raise a family. They adopted pretty traditional Greatest Generation roles. She raised their 5 kids while Bill worked his way to a nice middle class prosperity, but the business had troubles and the parents worried about that.
Pat's story certainly does not play down Bill's infidelities, but never does she make herself some kind of martyred heroine. She knows her own faults, she knows her own responsibility for her life. She sees her kids as individuals, seems to have what relationship-dynamics experts call "good boundaries" with them, supporting them but not closing her eyes to bad choices - in other words, she seems to love them, both fiercely and intelligently.
She also seems to, so soon after the airing of the series, have a lot of clarity about what they were expecting, how the experience affected them, and has not much in the way of illusions about the uncertainty that she faces as she makes a fresh start.
I liked her when I read it in 1974. I still like her. And I think the book, as far as it goes, is an interesting and honest document. A lot has happened to this still-close family since the series. There's plenty of update on the family available on the web.
This book, written in 1974 with co-author, Nora Johnson, appears to be Pat Loud's response to all of the criticism heaped on the Loud family shortly after PBS's "An American Family" exploded on the '70's scene. Uninterrupted (unlike in interviews at the time), Pat expounds on why they chose to do the documentary, when they knew they'd been sucked into something much bigger than they'd anticipated and what became of Pat once she became a household name. The writing is tedious and meandering - Pat had a lot to get off her chest and it shows. It's basically a time capsule that would have been more suited as an entry in a private diary or on a therapist's scratch pad.