""American Dreams" is a show that could have been on the air during the very timeframe in which it was set. In it's entirely too short three season run, it was a standout, simply because it was well written, wonderfully acted, and just plain entertaining - something to which the millions of reality shows and "Law and Order" clones cluttering the airwaves couldn't begin to compare. "American Dreams" captured both the lingering innocence and the burgeoning counter culture of the 60's. Kids spent their time listening to records and watching "American Bandstand", but surreptitiously attended war protests on college campuses. Dads earned a living and handed down advice and discipline while moms cooked balanced meals, but after the children were in bed, they discussed such taboo subjects as women's rights, race relations, and birth control. All of these subjects were addressed intelligently and realistically, but the writers never failed to add humor to the scripts as well.
Much of the show was from the viewpoint of Meg Pryor (played by the wonderful Brittany Snow). We first meet Meg as a sweet 15 year old who realizes her lifelong dream of becoming a dancer on "American Bandstand". The two hour pilot episode finds Meg and her wild child best friend Roxanne scheming to be pulled from the daily lineup of hopeful dancers outside the Philadelphia television studio where "Bandstand" is filmed, for a guest appearance on the show. It takes some conniving on the part of the always hilariously outrageous Roxanne, but one day the impossible happens, and both girls make it onto the show. Meg doesn't believe it could possibly get any better - until she catches the eye of one of the show's producers, who offers her a regular spot. Her ecstasy is short lived when she finds out that not only was Roxanne was not asked to be a regular, but her father will not allow her to be on the show. Meg's determination finally wins her father's permission, but her guilt over Roxanne leads to her decision to quit. A resolution is reached when the producer is impressed by Meg's loyalty and invites Roxanne to be a regular as well, but the pilot ends on a somber note with the assassination of President Kennedy.
This episode is characteristic of the rest of the season (and Seasons 2 and 3 as well). "American Bandstand" features prominently in the series as we follow Meg and Roxanne's daily adventures as dancers and minor celebrities. One of the highlights of the series was the outstanding performances of many 21st century bands playing 60's acts such as Jay and The Americans and The Kinks. However, it also tackles heavier issues, such as the Vietnam War (a major focus of Season 2, which follows the active duty of Meg's brother J.J.) and racism. Many storylines feature Henry, a black employee of Meg's father's appliance store, and his son Sam, with whom Meg forms a close friendship despite disapproval from both families and society in general. Over the course of the three seasons, Meg develops from a starry eyed "good girl" to an intelligent, socially conscious young woman, who challenges the gender roles set for her and always follows the path that she knows is right. But the show never forgot how to have fun as well.
"American Dreams" was one of the finest television shows ever produced. Thumbs down to NBC for not recognizing what they had. If only they'd given it a fighting chance (putting it in a decent time slot and allowing the episodes to be re-run in the off season), it would have been remembered as a legend years from now! "
Moving And Addictive
M. Hencke | New York, NY United States | 10/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Best show currently on television. The acting, the direction, music, editing is all spot on. It is amazing I don't know more people who watch the show. I look forward to tuning into this show every sunday night. I don't think I have missed a single episode. I can't wait to own this and also to see how season 2 ends. Dynamite!"
Great show, sure to be great DVD
TVonDVD | 08/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In response to the last review, this DVD is going to contain all of the first season episodes. This set is not just the music. It is called the Extended Music Edition because there will be extended scenes with the guest stars that sing on Bandstand."
Good Show to Show Good Values
Kurt O. Hurner | Fairlawn, Ohio United States | 06/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have watched this show faithfully since its birth, and I have got to tell you that I love this show. I am not even a baby boomer, but a Gen Xer born in the mid-late 1970s. This show is refreshing to the "REALITY" television that network television likes to air. Although the times seemed simple in 1963-64, you can definately parelle 2002-03. The one thing this show shows is that struggle happens through the ages. Sadly, I fear that after the 2004-05 season, American Dreams will be just that, a dream. I hope that those of you who have never viewed American Dreams will find it something to watch in its third season. You will like how they take singers and groups from today and have them play singers and groups of the 1960s. This show is one that parents and children can watch together, and for an hour on Sunday nights, we can all be a family."
A show that truly depicted life in the 60's
S. Morris | Beaver Dam, WI, USA | 10/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This series is one of many that was canceled before its time. It was one of the few family dramas left on the air, and in addition to that, it was one of the most original shows to ever grace tv screens. To show an American family set in the 1960's on present day tv was an awesome concept. The actors are top notch, and the show never quite received the popularity that it should have, considering that this show was one of the few left on tv that had substance. A lot of problems that were prominent in 1960's culture were depicted very convincingly. The show was heartwarming, original, and had a good blend of drama and comedy. It will truly be missed. Let's hope that seasons 2 and 3 come out soon (and that NBC allows the extended series finale to finally be shown on the dvd.)"