Rent A Family (Part 1)
|Work In Progress|
|Original Broadcast Date|
|Barbara Sohmers, Mark Hammer, Arthur Miller, Tim Jerome, Nick Ullett, Carolyn Swift, Larry Block, Lynn, Sarah, Carmen, Thomas, Timo, Sharon, Christa|
|Scripted Actors, Improv Actors, Panel Discussion, 58 minutes|
|Followed by:||Rent A Family (Part 2)|
"Anyway they closed the office and they let me go."
Rent A Family (Part 1) is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series Work In Progress. It was originally broadcast in 1987.
Eleanor, an unemployed divorceé with 2 young daughters, (Barbara Sohmers) having trouble finding work, reluctantly joins Rent-A-Family, an organization that rents out families to men who want one temporarily.
9:30: Rent-A-Family's proprietor, Joel, (Larry Block) describes how Rent-A-Family works.
10:50: Panelist #1 (Tim Jerome, German accent) asks a question about how it works.
11:50: Panelist #2 (Arthur Miller) asks a question.
12:10: Panelist #3, Johnny, (Nick Ullett, English accent) asks a question.
13:10: The panel and proprietor talk about Rent-A-Family and society, planned obsolescence, the convenience of renting instead of owning.
18: Carmen introduces herself; more voices of women and children, mostly drowned under music and sound effects. Joe names things (...cheeseburgers, zoning regulations...)
19:40: Eleanor tells about Wendy and Diane; takes them to get filmed for Rent-A-Family. She decides the first applicant is suitable, prepares for an outing at the beach.
31:50: Panelist #2 says that society sells the happiness of families but families are diminishing. The panel discusses Rent-A-Family further.
41: More voices of women and children, mostly drowned under music and sound effects.
42:30: The first outing, to the beach, goes well until the fellow (un-named and voiceless) takes the girls to get ice cream.
51:40: The panel talks about Rent-A-Family further.
The program explores an organization that rents women with children to bachelors for days at a time. A woman talks about signing up with the program. Panel discussion about the program with a spokesman and questioners: men who choose a range of different families; renting spare children; the cost of different families; built in obsolescence; the relative value of long and short term relationships; the RAF as prostitution. Clips from the catalog of applicant videos against a background of chimes and Joe listing random nouns. The woman discusses her first experience in the program. Panel discussion continues: loneliness; the no parent family; intimacy in short term relationships; fast moving society, a bachelor in RAF commits suicide. More catalog clips. The woman describes the first meeting with her renter for a picnic on the beach. [Spoiler removed.] Panel discussion: the strangeness of the encounter as a positive, alienation in ordinary marriage.
- "A Fine Line" - Tim Story (from Three Feet From The Moon, 1985) | YouTube [Intro]
- "Eihwaz (Defense) / Kano (Opening)" - Giles Reaves (from Wunjo, 1986) | YouTube [9:33]
- "Gypsy Violin" - Harold Budd (from Lovely Thunder, 1986) | YouTube [18:26]
The original broadcast credits state: "The performers were Barbara Sohmers, Arthur Miller, Tim Jerome, Nick Ullett, and Larry Block. Special thanks to Carmen, Thomas, Timo, Lynn, and Sarah. Rent A Family Part 1 was recorded at M&I Studios in New York City by Phil Capp, and at KCRW by Dave Weaver. Technical production by Tom Strother."
There is/was an actual "Rent-A-Family" company in Japan that sent actors to visit lonely parents - see "Running Out Of Time" (In Context, Winter 1994).
This show was so emotionally powerful, that the actors involved often broke down in tears (in real life) during the taping.
- ↑ This is the Rent A Family panel discussion theme: it plays before and during its appearances.