The Controversial ’70s TV Hit That Inspired Little Miss Sunshine

When “Little Miss Sunshine” arrived on the scene in 2006, nabbing both Academy Awards and the hearts of American audiences, it captured an era of mid-aughts indie filmmaking that was defined by quirky comedic dysfunction.

From “Garden State” and “Napoleon Dynamite” before it, to “Juno” and “500 Days of Summer” after, the road trip movie seems like the center point of a very specific movie trend.Surprisingly, though, “Little Miss Sunshine” didn’t mean to follow in the footsteps of the offbeat 2000s dramedy, but wanted to captured the essence of a different type of film that came decades earlier.

In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel around the time of the movie’s release, co-director Jonathan Dayton says he and his wife Valerie Faris took inspiration from “An American Family,” a 1973 PBS docuseries directed by Craig Gilbert that’s widely credited with ushering in the advent of reality television.

It’s an odd comparison,

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