Lance Loud Becomes a National Symbol of Moral Decay

Lance Loud Becomes a National Symbol of Moral Decay

“The press response [to An American Family] was totally bewildering because we expected it to be reviewed as a documentary, and instead they reviewed the family,” Kristian Hoffman said. “The vitriol was just palpable. So that started to hurt after a while.” Writing for the New York Times Magazine, journalist Anne Roiphe exemplified the mainstream critical reception—particularly her treatment of what she called “the flamboyant, leechlike, homosexuality of their oldest son, Lance.” For these critics, he epitomized both the stupidity of mainstream television programming and the perversity of underground culture. “Lance Loud, the evil flower of the Loud family, dominates the drama—the devil always has the best lines,” Roiphe wrote. “Lance is twenty years old and living in the Hotel Chelsea in New York as the series opens. He describes his family with a kind of campy wit and all the warmth of an iguana singing in the driving rain. The second episode shows Pat Loud coming to New York to visit her son at the Chelsea. It was in this episode I most admired her strong self-control. She is confronted, brutally and without preparation, with the transvestite, perverse world of hustlers, drug addicts, pushers, etc., and watches her son prance through a society that can be barely comprehensible to a forty-five-year-old woman from Santa Barbara.”

From Chapter 23 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Chelsea Hotel
222 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011