Read the following overview of Episode One of the American Dreams program with your students:
This evocative drama, which won two Emmy Awards in its freshman season last year, is set against the memorable, upbeat sounds of the 1960s as it depicts a more innocent America -- as seen through the youthful Pryor family of Philadelphia as they brace for cultural turbulence ahead that still resonates in this contemporary era.
Likable, 16-year-old "good girl" Meg Pryor (Brittany Snow, "Guiding Light") and her outspoken best friend, Roxanne (Vanessa Lengies, "Popular Mechanics for Kids") continue to pursue their dreams of dancing on Dick Clark's locally produced "American Bandstand" as they struggle through the teenage transitions into adulthood.
At the same time, Meg's mother Helen (three-time Emmy nominee Gail O'Grady, "NYPD Blue") is embracing the newfound empowerment that the 1960s afforded women, thereby creating a tear in the Pryor family fabric -- mostly affecting the family's patriarch, Jack Pryor (Tom Verica, "Providence"). The ongoing family changes include JJ (Will Estes, "7th Heaven"), who abandons his dream of playing college football in favor of joining the U.S. Marines while he solidifies his relationship with his high-school sweetheart, Beth Mason (Rachel Boston, "The Andy Dick Show"), now a college freshman. In addition, adolescent Will (Ethan Dampf, "Collateral Damage") faces a major surgery and smarty-pants Patty (Sarah Ramos) continues with her annoying manners and now joins Meg in high school.
In addition, Henry Walker (Jonathan Adams, "The American Embassy"), an employee in Jack Pryor's electronics store, struggles to give his family a better life. His son, Sam (Arlen Escarpeta, "The Shield") continues at East Catholic High School on his track scholarship and is caught between his father's ideals and the new civil rights struggles of the decade.