Long before botox, backbiting behavior, pretension that knows no bounds and over the top spending bordering on bankruptcy that we know as reality tv, there was the PBS groundbreaking show "An American Family." The twelve part series chronicled the lives of Bill and Pat Loud and their five children in upper class Santa Barbara.
HBO masterfully recreated a fictionalized account of the series "Cinema Verite"(you can catch it On Demand throughout the month of May). Tim Robbins plays the philandering husband with Diane Lane as his feminist coming of age wife and their trials and tribulations are literally played out in full splendor (everything from a gay son to infidelity and separation). Like many of the housewives that followed decades later, the call of fifteen minutes of small screen fame beckoned and fireworks ensued.
The show also offers a wonderful look back at the seventies in Santa Barbara. Production designer Patti Podesta recreated the Loud's ranch house (outside of Los Angeles) complete with the classic sixties and seventies accoutrement -- white laminate kitchen table, Eames chair, tweed sofa and period Brown Jordan patio furniture. For more on the show's set designs, see writer David Keeps of the Los Angeles Times blog LA at Home.
|The TV Loud family....|
|and the real-life Louds|
Costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlab created the period wardrobe, a mixture of seventies
fashion moments blended with a relaxed California style. Modified Jackie O tortoise shell sunglasses, sheath tunic dresses, scarf tied hair and even Bill's crisp white shirts are just a few of the costumes that no doubt helped the characters channel the Louds.
|Ali MacGraw meets Mary Tyler Moore in this look for Diane Lane|
|Seventies country club looks|
|Lane with James Gandolfini|
|Lolita Davidovich as the colorful boutique owner|
|Loud interiors above and below|