This evocative drama, which won two Emmy Awards, is set against the memorable music, the cultural clashes, and the Vietnam war during the 1960s. The third-year drama depicts the American landscape -- as seen through the youthful Pryor family of Philadelphia as they brace for the cultural turbulence ahead that still resonates in this contemporary era.
BRANDY GUEST-STARS AS GLADYS KNIGHT, GAVIN DEGRAW AS SINGER IN THE LAIR, AND BEN TAYLOR'S ACTING DEBUT - Meg (Brittany Snow) and Sam (Arlen Escarpeta) continue to find themselves at odds with their parents after their court date, as the uncertain future of Sam's scholarship hangs over Henry's (Jonathan Adams) head. Meg's arrest is leaked to the papers, compromising the integrity of Jack's (Tom Verica) bid to run for city council. Back at school, Meg and Roxanne (Vanessa Lengies) learn that the new headmaster is enforcing the school's dress code, so they organize a mini-skirt protest. Meanwhile, Beth (Rachel Boston) continues to work at the Lair, and has caught the eye of Cal (guest-star Ben Taylor), an aspiring singer/songwriter. When Helen (Gail O'Grady) asks Beth to join the Blue Star Women, an organization that donates necessities to the wives of soldiers at war, she expresses her concerns of not being JJ's (Will Estes) wife. In Vietnam, JJ is in a military hospital where he learns
NICOLE RICHIE GUEST-STARS AS LEAD SINGER OF THE EXCITERS, HAYLEY WESTERNA AS A SINGER IN THE LAIR - When the Pryors meet their new neighbors, they are surprised and shocked to discover that Shelly Pierce is a single mom, a Playboy Bunny, and that her son, Chris, is old enough to attend East Catholic. As Meg continues her anti-war campaign, she is reprimanded at school by a progressive nun who decides that a better way for Meg to get her message out is to direct Shakespeare's play ""Henry V"", with a modern day twist. As Patty becomes obsessed with winning the Campbell's Tomato Soup essay contest, she seeks Donald's help, which causes some discomfort for Helen. Meanwhile, Sam is recuited for basketball at Penn, which concerns Henry, but provides a new girlfriend for Sam - in the form of his tutor. When Jack's campaign for city council begins to affect his family and professional life, he finds himself faced with questions only he can answer. Meanwhile, JJ's excitement to be with his new s
While JJ is in Vietnam he meet Gunnery Sergean Finch. Father Cassidy discovers Meg's plans to add an anti-Vietnam aspect to the play and forbids her to do the play as it is. Jack is aproached by the pastor about getting a colored person on the police commision. Luke returns to Philadelphia with shocking news for Roxanne. Melanie becomes increasingly jealous of Sam and Meg's friendship. At the last second, Meg decides to do the play as she wrote it.
Jack and Helen prepare to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary by going out of town. Roxanne decides to move out of the Pryor's house and in with Luke. Nathan begins to serve the rest of his jail time by working in a VA hospital. During his time there, he gains a respect for the veterans. JJ and his squard are captured and must figure out a way to escape. Meg considers laying your anti-war antics to rest but changes her mind at the last minute. Chris and Meg share their first kiss while painting a peace sign on the school but are caught and sentenced to 2 week suspension.
As the Pryor's await news on JJ, Jack goes to Washington D.C. to try and find more information. Chris tells Meg about an anti-war rally in Washington D.C. and Meg convinces her father to let her to go to Washington D.C. Melanie invites Sam and his family to Thanksgiving diner, however Sam does not extend the invitation to his family and goes by himself. Helen is haunted by flashbacks of JJ while Patty and Will have a hard time going on with life. As the family sit downs to Thanksgiving dinner they recieve a package that announces JJ's fate.
The family continues to mourn the news of JJ. Beth, worried about Helen and suggests she go and sees a psychiatrist. Jack is angry with Beth for suggesting it but Helen eventually goes. Meg is not sure what to do when she is asked to speak about JJ at an assembly. JJ is found alive by a Frenchmen but when he learns that he kills American soldiers, JJ must escape to save his life. A city wide blackout occurs during a meteora shower. Chris takes Meg to watch it. At home, Beth goes in to labor during the blackout and later delivers John Pryor III.
Helen occupies her time helping Beth care for John Pryor III. However, Beth is angry with Helen after she invites her father (Beth's) to see the baby. Meg continues with her anti-war movements but is shocked when Chris and his friends want to burn down an army recruiting center. Luke's girlfriend from San Francisco comes to visit but doesn't realize Luke wants to break up with her. Roxanne then becomes afraid that Luke will suddenly dump her one day. Nathan continues to spend time with an elderly veteran. As a result, when he dies he leaves Nathan his boat. Sam realizes that he handled things with Melanie wrong way and invites her to his house for dinner. The Pryor family must continue through the holiday season without JJ. What they don't know is JJ is still alive and fighting for his way home. After the family leaves for Christmas Eve mass, the Pryors receive a phone call and learn that JJ is on his way home. In a tearful reunion, JJ is reunited with his family and meets his son for
JJ and Beth began searching for the perfect house, but JJ recieves a letter from Vietnam and gives away their money for a house. As their wedding day approaches, the family is busy preparing. JJ learns that Helen is involved with an anti-war movement while Patty falls for Beth's cousin. Meg continues to struggle with Chris who keeps showing up. When Meg realizes her true feelings it's too late as Chris has left town.
Prom is on the brain in this episode of American Dreams. With senior prom soon approaching, Roxanne and Meg scramble with their preperations. Patty is invited to prom which she rubs in Meg's face but is later upset when her date asks somebody else. Roxanne works to convince Luke to shave her beard off, while Meg prepares to face the prom on her own. JJ comes to her rescue after having a fight with Beth, that begins when JJ confesses his gamble that he lost. While at prom, JJ is offered a job at the high school. Meanwhile, Mr. Pryor feels the pressure from his bribers, and struggles to make a choice, which effects his family more than he knows.
As Meg prepares to graduate she considers taking her relationship with Sam to the next level but is chocked to find that many people are against it. Jack continues to struggle with the City Council and ultimately ends up quitting. Patty's essay wins the Campbell Soup essay contest but nobody believes her because she sent it in under another student's name. JJ takes the job coaching football but begins to wonder about his future and possibly even becoming an astronaut. Roxanne becomes worried that she may not graduate when she can't pass the presidential fitness exam.
Meg & Roxanne go to Hollywood for a special ""American Banstand"" episode. While the girls are there, they meet up with Barabra Eden a.k.a. ""Jeannie"". J.J. goes for an interview with an Engineering company in the hopes of following his dream of becoming an Astronaut. Meanwhile, Sam realizes the he has more in common with Nathan's date then Nathan does and Pete & Shelley decide to have an ""open relationship"" where they can see each other and other people. Jack decides to tell a reporter his reasons for leaving City Council.
With Ted, Jack's brother in the hospital he faces a tough decision to pull him of the respirator that is keeping him alive. Meg and Roxanne are excited for The Rolling Stones concert but are surprised to find where their seats are. Patty wants to become cool after being teased by some students at summer school about being a nerd. She receives a makeover from Meg and Roxanne and goes on bandstand but ultimately decides she likes who she is. Meanwhile, JJ is doing well at his job and able to use his knowledge from Vietnam to help him.
When Chris returns, Meg finds out that he has been drafted for the war and is going to Berkeley to avoid it. Meg must decide between being with Chris or being with her family but her decision is made even harder when Jack threatens to disown her if she leaves. Roxanne begins to cut hair at the Vinyl Crocodile much to Luke's dismay. JJ begins to feel overwhelmed at work when he volunteers to help on a project. Nathan is given a second chance by Mr. Pryor when he allows Nathan to do deliveries again. Helen decides to accompany a mother to pick up her son's coffin.