Using remarkable archive footage and eyewitness testimony, this major three-part series explores the realities behind the idea of the 'American Dream' from the 1940s to the 1970s.
The final part of this exploration of the American dream looks at the role faith has played in American notions of a new world - from traditional religion to cults to the beliefs of the counterculture. Faith defines America. The Pilgrim Fathers dreamt of a new world based on Christian principles. Part of the American dream has been the right to worship God in any way Americans wanted to. But in the sixties, some young people rejected mainstream religion and started reinventing the American dream. The conflicting visions produced a divided America. This programme explores the original American dream of a faith-based nation. It takes in the post-war revival of interest in religion and healing and the traditional perspectives of popular singer Pat Boone and former beauty queen Anita Bryant, before journeying through the rise of Pentecostalism via the alternative philosophies of the Beat generation - or the Merry Pranksters - and their LSD fuelled visions of the sixties, along with hippie communes and dangerous cults.
'The American dream' - a phrase coined in 1931 that has become a national motto. It represents a unique brand of optimism that goes to the heart of what it is to be American. It is a simple phrase but a complex notion whose meaning is sustained and challenged by each generation. The promises of the American dream extended to all, but it was a dream denied to many. This episode looks at those who could not square the rhetoric of the dream with the reality of their lives, and those who wanted a different dream and a different America. It looks at a range of experiences: from Japanese and African Americans during the Second World War to radical groups of the seventies like the Weather Underground and the American Indian Movement. This series features those who helped foster and sell the dream, those who feel they have lived it, as well as those who challenge or reject the very notion. Through rare archive and eyewitness testimony, this series explores the realities behind America's most powerful myth - from the eve of the Second World War to the end of the Vietnam War.