11 January 1973
On December 31, 1971, producer Craig Gilbert introduces the audience to the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California: Bill Loud, his wife Pat, and their five children: Lance, Kevin, Grant, Delilah, and Michele. At the Loud home, Pat and the kids prepare for a New Year's Eve party. Bill, recently separated from Pat, has returned from a trip and celebrates with friends at a local club. Craig Gilbert, in voiceover, tells the audience that this is how the story ends. The action shifts back to earlier in the year to show how it begins. In New York, eldest son Lance describes his brothers and sisters. In California, the Louds carry out their daily routines: Pat shops at the market, Bill views a demolition, Delilah attends dance school, Michele tends to her horse, and Grant practices with his garage band. Lance phones the family from New York, and Pat grows weary of his telephone antics.
18 January 1973
Memorial Day weekend, 1971, Pat takes a room at the Chelsea in New York for a visit with Lance. She meets Lance's roommate Soren Ingenue, fellow resident Holly Woodlawn, and their colorful coterie of Manhattan friends. Lance and Soren escort Pat to Vain Victory, a transvestite musical, but when the scene grows tense, Soren gets them tickets to No, No Nanette, a musical more in line with Pat's tastes. Lance and Pat take a stroll through Central Park, discussing Lance's childhood and his unsatisfying relationship with Bill. Later, they visit a fortune teller who foretells enormous change in Pat's life by October. Before returning home, Pat lectures Lance about being more responsible.
25 January 1973
Pat stops in Baltimore on the way home from visiting Lance and takes care of some business for Bill. Back in Santa Barbara, the kids fool around in the yard, and Delilah slips off with boyfriend Brad to kiss. Bill meets Pat at the airport. They go to lunch and discuss Lance's bizarre life in New York City. Bill grouses about his sons being lazy, prompting Pat to defend them. Later, at a dinner party, Bill ignores Pat's opinions about a union strike that's affecting his business. Pat helps Delilah prepare for a dance recital, where Delilah gives a solo performance.
1 February 1973
June 1971. Lance reveals to the family that he has a new apartment without Soren. He's planning a trip to Europe with a theater group. Pat flies to her hometown of Eugene, Oregon to celebrate her mother's birthday. Pat and Grandma Russell drive around Eugene, visiting many important landmarks from Pat's past. Pat laments all the changes and how things "get fouled up". Through old photographs, home movies, and narration, Pat wistfully recalls her late father and a happy childhood in South America with elder brother Tom. Grandma Russell enjoys a birthday party with her friends. Later, she and Pat share a low-key lunch before Pat returns to California.
8 February 1973
July 1971 is a time of departures for the Loud family. Pat, Delilah, Michelle, and Delilah's friend Suzanne Tate leave on a road trip to an artists' colony in Taos, New Mexico. Meanwhile, Bill is sending Kevin off to Southeast Asia to tour mines with a business colleague. With most of the kids out of the way, Bill schemes to have Grant work a summer job with nephew David, who owns a concrete extruding business. Lance phones to say that he's leaving for six weeks in Europe with the theater group Pedestrian. Grant sarcastically thanks everyone for the concrete caper when he's badgered into accepting David's job. Bored with Taos, Delilah and Suzanne take a Greyhound bus back to California, leaving a miserable Michele behind with drunken adults. Delilah wonders what's going on when she phones home, is told she can't return to the Loud house, and Bill refuses to reveal his whereabouts.
15 February 1973
It's late July 1971, and Pat has returned from New Mexico. Over a lunch of scotch and martinis, Bill and Pat express antithetical attitudes regarding their children. Pat's afraid of losing them, while Bill can't wait for them to leave home. Pat is abandoned by Delilah and loses a skirmish with a disobedient Michele. The scene shifts to August. Bill returns from another business trip to find that raging brush fires have come close to destroying the Loud home. Pat and Bill engage in a petty domestic spat. Kevin calls from Southeast Asia to talk about his trip. In Paris, Lance and his friend Kristian Hoffman meet some bizarre characters and lament their desperate need for more money.
22 February 1973
After another quarrel between her parents, an embarrassed Delilah confides to Brad that she'll live with a man before committing to marriage. At the Santa Barbara fiesta, Bill flirts outrageously with other women, while a wounded Pat assaults him with trenchant comments. Later, the two lounge carefree by the pool and play "good cop, bad cop" with Grant over his music career. Working in the hot Santa Ana sun, David's crew teases Grant. After work, everyone goes to David's apartment, where they discuss Grant's involvement in a car accident. Fearing Big Bill's reaction to the wrecked Volvo, Grant gets drunk on vodka screwdrivers. The next day he drives back to Santa Barbara, worried about the scene he'll face at home, but Pat proves very loving and sympathetic to his plight.
1 March 1973
While Bill takes an extended business trip through the southern and Midwestern United States, Pat meets with an attorney to instigate divorce proceedings. Later, she drives to her brother Tom's home in Glendale. Tom and wife Yvonne listen to Pat's interpretation of her disintegrating marriage, including Bill's extramarital affairs and his tenuous relationship with Lance. On the road, Bill describes to business associates the more lighthearted aspects of his family. Back in Santa Barbara, Pat has surrounded herself with the kids and their friends. Grant goes to the airport to pick up Bill, who jokes about walking into the lion's den at home, unaware of the drama about to unfold.
8 March 1973
A nervous Grant drives Bill home from the airport. When they arrive, Pat ambushes Bill with news that she's divorcing him and wants him to leave their home immediately. Pat stares out a bedroom window and the family is subdued as Bill packs his bags, arranges a hotel room, and drives off into the night. The next day, a listless Pat lies by the pool listening to a melancholy song by Carole King. Later, she watches wistfully as Michele and Delilah perform a dance routine and piano duet. Bill calls the house to check on things, and Pat treats him with indifference. Grant lightens the mood by playing Apeman and Mother Nature's Son for Pat and his sisters.
15 March 1973
September 13, 1971. Delilah and a bored, sleepy Grant register for their high school classes. Bill spends the morning shopping for his new bachelor pad. The kids complain about their first day of school. Kevin returns from Southeast Asia and notes Grant's weird behavior. At school, Kevin and his classmates plan a creative assembly to launch the new school year. Grant and his band practice their part of the school extravaganza, in which Grant plays the lead singer of the fictional band Warlock, and is chased by a mob of crazed fans. At the end of the day, the family relaxes in the pool. Pat and Bill are at odds over Lance, who needs help getting back to the States. In Europe, Lance and Kristian encourage their friend Judy to call her mom and beg for money.
22 March 1973
October 1971. Grant and his friend get stoned and receive a phone call from Lance who says he's amassed a fortune in Hawaiian shirts and a 50 page letter from Bill. Later, Lance boards a flight to Santa Barbara. The family collects Lance from the airport, where he makes a dramatic final exit from the plane. Back at the Loud home, Lance shows off his shirts, and he and Delilah try on makeup together. The kids celebrate Pat's 45th birthday. Lance annoys Pat while she's cleaning the pool. Bill discusses new furniture for his apartment. Lance rides his bike to Bill's office, while Bill, in voiceover narration, reads a portion of his touching letter to Lance. Bill arrives at his office, and he and Lance discuss the divorce. Kevin visits the office, too, and snaps a photo of Bill and Lance.
29 March 1973
In the series conclusion, Pat watches Grant and his band audition at a local club. Delilah visits Bill, who sends her back to Pat with a new outfit he bought for her. Pat models the ensemble and makes a sarcastic comment about Bill still not having a clue about her style. Bill and his accountant arrange Pat's divorce settlement. Lance and Kristian make a home movie on the beach with another friend. At the Loud home, Pat convenes a family meeting and orders the kids to keep up with their household chores and stay out of her liquor cabinet. Later, she confronts Lance about his lifestyle. Lance insists he's doomed but says he can laugh about the inevitability of his failure. Bill and a friend discuss how the American family has been sold a bad bill of goods about what's expected of them. Pat dines with friends and contemplates her future as a divorcée.
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