Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Television history was made in 1973 when PBS offered the reality miniseries An American Family, a cinéma vérité examination of a "typical" family called the Louds. In the course of this series, parents Bill and Pat Loud decided to get a divorce, while their 22-year-old son Lance Loud announced that he was a homosexual -- very much a TV first in those unenlightened times. Produced by the same team responsible for An American Family, the 60-minute documentary special Lance Loud! A Death in an American Family brought the saga tragically up to date. The film was produced at the behest of the HIV-positive Lance in the months before his death from Hepatitis C at age 50 in 2001. Although the mood is unavoidably melancholy, the special also has its life-affirming moments, noting how Lance and his family had reconciled in the years since An American Family, and how his parents Bill and Pat, although no longer man and wife, had decided to live together all the same.