Skip to main content


April 1, 2005

American Dreams

Posted by admin

For the last few seasons a show has been running on NBC called American Dreams. It ran on Sunday nights at 8 till a few weeks ago when it was moved to Wednesdays in the same time slot. It was one of the few shows regularly watched by me and my two sons. For those of you not familiar with it, it was set in the '60s and chronicled a family's world during these turbulent times. The show looked at Kennedy (both John and Bobby), Vietnam, the Pill, racial strife, psychedelic drugs and just about every other "issue" of the time. I enjoyed the show as a look back at a time that I lived through. The boys had endless questions as they watched it, which inspired some pretty interesting family discussions. They truly did not understand the racial issues, which made me realize how far we have come.

And yeah, the show had a nice soundtrack unscoring it. One storyline revolved around one of the characters being a regular on American Bandstand and the music brought back a wave of memories.

This week the final episode may have aired, with the show the casualty of poor ratings. I will miss watching with the boys. We already had been sorry to see it leave Sunday nights as it had become a "tradition" with us to close out the weekend watching it. Watching was something like a "Mayberry Moment" to the boys; the way they describe times that to them signify pure Americana.

Watching cable news this week, I pondered what version of their own "American Dreams" my sons will watch as a chronicle of their growing up. Let's see --- we had the Terry Schiavo story and the media/political circus attached to that. We had Michael Jackson's life splayed before us like some torrid video. We had the death of Johnny Cochran bringing back memories of the OJ Trial, as well as his stellar deeds beyond this. We monitored the pope's health and what this will mean to the Church. Jennifer divorced Brad. Another earthquake rocked Indonesia. The news seemed dark and sad. We had everyone everywhere voicing their opinions on everything.

And okay, acting my age, I confess to thinking the music out today is pretty bad, which makes me wonder if I am just getting old. I just do not think the soundtrack of their lives will be as nice as the one that I remember from mine. Of course, I am sure that my parents, who were a part of The Greatest Generation, felt the same way as they lived through, watched and listened to American Dreams.

What we live through forms the backdrop of our lives. It's influences will spawn books that either appear in a nanosecond or will be long looks back at the past written in later years. As an example of both ends of this spectrum, this week on we have a book about the Scott Peterson trial by Catherine Crier running alongside one about John F. Kennedy.

Watching American Dreams made me recall that the long look --- and distance from the past --- sometimes is a lot better than what it actually was like to live the moment. The broad sweep can be better than the intimate details. But that said, I do wonder how the filter and the lens will portray the days my sons will remember. Let's see if time plays it out better than it looked in the original running. I know I wish right now that the original film was a lot better than it is.