If we are what we watch, which a number of studies reported on by the New York Times infer, Home Sweet Home, a new unscripted series debuting on NBC, October 15 at 8 pm, is a show that should be watched. The series, from Oscar and Emmy Award-winning executive producer Ava DuVernay, challenges two very different families each week to experience each other’s lives.
In the first episode both families are open and excited about participating in this social experiment yet concerned about how they will be perceived by the other family. We share their journey and learn along with them that shared values can override differences and assumptions are often misplaced.
It’s a refreshing alternative to the deluge of stories about what divides us. Television has a long history of influencing behavior, particularly before the proliferation of networks and platforms. It has impacted the way that people think and talk about race, gender and class, not to mention politics, in addition to how American culture is perceived throughout the world.
In the early years, the picture was mostly white. It wasn’t until the 70s when Black and Latinx characters were introduced as more than stereotypes. Increased advocacy for representation and the rise of a diverse community of writers, directors and producers whose voices are now being heard has resulted in the growing emergence of Black, Latinx, Asian and LGBTQ+ actors and characters in stories that reflect their reality. While growing, their numbers, both in front of and behind the camera, are still not representative of real world demographics. With channels targeting specific audiences, not all of this programming is reaching a mass market, unfortunately continuing to maintain a divided experience.
The same is true for family viewing, once such a significant activity that a family viewing hour was mandated by the FCC. The shared viewing experience became more of a rarity with the advent of the multi screen and device home.
Although broad network audiences have been whittled away, they still reach millions which is why Home Sweet Home has the potential to not only bring families together but spark a nationwide conversation. As part of the publicity and marketing team for the series, that’s our goal.