Craig Gilbert, who created TV’s original reality series, An American Family, on WNET and PBS in 1973, said the experience “was pretty damn tumultuous, and I don’t want to go over it anymore.” But luckily for New Yorker readers he does, in the mag’s current issue. He’s displeased with HBO’s upcoming Cinema Verite, which dramatizes the making of the controversial 12-part program focusing on the Loud family. “If you are given the assignment to write a two-hour film that exposes the making of An American Family, the only avenue to take is that the producer is corrupt,” Gilbert says.
The memory of a call from Pat Loud still stings. She was hurt by public reaction to her family — one critic called the family “affluent zombies.”
“Pat was screaming,” Gilbert says. “She’d taken a below-the-belt hit, and it hurt. That, right there, was the beginning of my own confusion. What have I done? What do I do?” He paused. “I’ve never resolved it. I didn’t know what I had wrought. I still don’t.”