American Dreams - Complete Season 1 (2002)
A time when the American Dream was alive. And one family was living that Dream.
IMDb Rating 6.9 (1,088 votes)
Front Cover Actor Back Cover
Will Estes JJ Pryor
Gail O'Grady Helen Pryor
Tom Verica Jack Pryor
Brittany Snow Meg Pryor
Sarah Ramos Patty Pryor
Ethan Dampf Will Pryor
Vanessa Lengies Roxanne Bojarski
Jonathan Adams Henry Walker
Arlen Escarpeta Sam Walker
Rachel Boston Beth Mason
Virginia Madsen
The 2002 first season of American Dreams introduced one of the more ambitious new dramas on a major television network since the debut of The West Wing. Deceptively nostalgic, American Dreams looks, at first blush, like a bone tossed to baby boomers who remember black and white TV, American Bandstand, and what class they were in when word spread of JFK's assassination. But the more one watches the show, the more apparent it becomes that American Dreams is not about memories but about bringing a pivotal chapter in 20th century U.S. history to life--sometimes electrifyingly so.

The series pilot, set just before and on the day of Kennedy's murder, introduces Philadelphia family the Pryors, white, middle-class Catholics whose stern but not undiscerning patriarch, Jack (Tom Verica), gets an earful one night over dinner. Eldest son J.J. (Will Estes), a star running back at high school and candidate for a Notre Dame football scholarship, announces he's leaving the sport, feeling unappreciated for his mind and inspired by Kennedy's outreach to young people. Teenage daughter Meg (Brittany Snow) allows that she'll be dancing on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. Jack's wife, Helen (Gail O'Grady), later lets fly that she's moving on from her boring book club to spend time with a new friend, a feminist academic (Virginia Madsen), and strongly hints that she's done with adding more babies to their brood of four. The times are indeed a-changin' for the Pryors--who have chugged along on WWII vet Jack's fiercely protected vision of picket fences, cooperative kids, and a wife who doesn't upset his equilibrium with needs of her own. But the rest of the country is changing, too, and American Dreams captures--with subtle precision--the erosion of comfortable assumptions at the onset of the Vietnam war, the escalation of the civil rights movement, the British Invasion, reproductive rights for women, and much else.

The series flows, often with stylish splendor, between the Pryors' home, the Bandstand studio set, and Jack's retail television and radio shop, where Jack's sole employee, an African American father, Henry (Jonathan Adams), wonders silently about the options a racist society will offer his talented son, Sam (Arlen Escarpeta). Wordlessness is a hallmark of American Dreams: An exchanged look between Meg and Sam is shattering testimony to the confusion of racial prohibitions among well-meaning kids. Part of every show finds historical reenactments of '60s musical acts appearing on Bandstand, and sometimes these artists are played by contemporary musicians such as Nick Carter (as Jay of Jay and the Americans) and Third Eye Blind (as the Kinks). This boxed set includes real Bandstand clips that are contemporaneous with the series' timeline. --Tom Keogh

Movie Details
Genre Drama; Music
Universal Studios
Movie Release Date 2002
Country   USA
Language English
Audience Rating NR (Not Rated)
Running Time 60 mins
Color Color
Disc 1:
Features Dick Clark remembers music superstars with rare footage from American Bandstand
Rarely seen music video featuring Stacie Orrico and the American Dreams cast
Audio commentaries from Dick Clark and the American Dreams cast
Director Daniel Attias; Lev L. Spiro; Tucker Gates; David Semel; Randall Zisk
Writer Emily Whitesell; Deborah Swisher; Jonathan Prince; Josh Goldstein
Cinematography Brian J. Reynolds
User Credit 2 Chrisi Karvonides-Dushenko; Jane Anderson
Producer James Chory; Mark Grossan; Rama Laurie Stagner
User Credit 1 Tatiana S. Riegel; Sondra Watanabe
Musician Alan Ett; Scott Liggett
Edition Details
Edition Extended Music Edition
Region 1
Screen Ratio Fullscreen (4:3)
Format DVD
Layers Single Side, Dual Layer
Barcode 025192573729
Release Date 9/7/2004
Subtitles French; Spanish
Packaging Keep Case
Audio Tracks Dolby Digital Stereo [English]
Nr of Disks/Tapes 7
Personal Details
Seen It Yes
Index 579
Collection Status In Collection
Tags Social Change, Nostalgic, Generation Gap, Vietnam Era, Family
Also Known As:
Our Generation (Australia) (USA) (working title)
Bandstand (USA) (working title)
Miss American Pie (USA) (working title)

Filming Locations:
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA (more)

Current music artists appear in almost every episode as popular singers from the 1960s. (more)

Anachronisms: American Bandstand moved to California in February 1964. (more)

[about President Kennedy's assassination]
Will: [seriously] Beth, do you know why they shot him?
Beth Mason: [sadly] No...
Will: [sighing] Politics.

Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 8 wins & 27 nominations (more)

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