Live Chat With ‘Two American Families’ Filmmakers

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Two American Families producers Kathleen Hughes and Tom Casciato. Courtesy of Okapi Productions.

Producers Kathleen Hughes and Tom Casciato. Courtesy of Okapi Productions.

Earlier today, Frontline hosted a live chat about Two American Families, a 90-minute documentary narrated by Bill Moyers that aired on PBS last night.

Filmmakers Kathleen Hughes and Tom Casciato, and Keith Stanley, a member of one of the families documented in the film, answered your questions about Milwaukee, the decline of the middle class and how the American Dream has changed over the past two decades. David Rohde, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and columnist for Reuters, The New York Times and The Atlantic who’s written about the hollowing out of Milwaukee’s middle class, facilitated the discussion.

You can replay the chat here:

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  • Ralph Gallagher

    You don’t have a clue what God is doing. Perhaps you should ask what your work has to say about eternal things?

  • Anonymous


  • Arun

    Every immigrant that came from India and China in last 30 years to do his / her Masters or PhD. has done extremely well in this country, their now grown up kids are doing even exceedingly well .. does this show that if you have better education, and talent ..then America can still offer that ‘Dream life’ and chance to do well ?

    Think about it .. for the past 20 years number one ethnic group with highest family income has been Indians, who are all first generation immigrants, and all of them came from middle class families in India ( parents earning less than $1000 per month ). Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese all follow after that. Checkout Wikipedia for more details.
    USA Today gives some nice charts :

  • libran

    Frontline doc does not quench my thirst for economic justice. Our elected officials are solely responsible for this situation. We must hold them accountable! An expose naming key politicians who spearheaded any legislation that contributed to this situation is sorely needed. They must be “called out”. Let’s give them their legacy.

  • Gloria

    Keith: I have been following your family through the series, deeply touched. I frequently think of your family (hopeful that your mom’s real estate work would take off and your dad would stay healthy) so was disheartened to see that their struggle continues. May I contact you at AWA to be of direct help to your parents? I’ll be on the chat and will listen for the reply.

  • Marie Hadiaris

    Saw this incredible film last night. I believe President Obama, all members of Congress and the Supreme Court should see this film and then maybe they will do something positive to help Americans and not just special interests.

  • Mike

    If Frontline had published Richard Groves story or attention was brought to the book Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigly they would understand this documentary sends two messages. One to the 99% that the “American Dream” is an illusion and the second to the elite that everything is going to plan.

  • Californian immigrant

    Captivating documentary! Since there were no commercial breaks, I was not able to work on my laundry last night. :)

    During the 2 decades of filming, did the families think about moving away from Milwaukee for better opportunities elsewhere? It seems to me that there’s only so much hard work can accomplish in a declining / stagnant situation. Hence many people (e.g. my parents) decide to immigrate to places where there are more jobs with better wages and/or get educations in careers with higher growth opportunities (e.g. technology sector). I understand that many cities are trying hard to revitalize, but surely swimming with the current is a lot easier than swimming against it.

  • Anonymous

    Please see MY fight with Gov of Washington Live on his FB or mine. I have a case that could change things for patients and workers across this country. My claim proves patients are being denied care all for the bottom line. please take 45 mins to see the following vids that explain what is happening to workers and HMO patients across this country. This is a war on the poorer working class through my employer and my health care. And my Civil rights and all of ours are being violated by State laws that were mad with the intent to keep the individuals from fighting back against the BIG guys in our health care needs. Please check it out. thanks for your time Peace

  • Denis Rigdon

    I’d like to hear from the families if they believe a national attitude, like that found in Denmark, where businesses must pay a true living wage, where affordable, energy-efficient housing is mandatory and provided a a right, where healthcare is provided for everyone as a citizen right, where education up to and including Master’s degree or MD degree is free as a citizen right, where the unemployed receive $100 / day for several years to find employment, get and maintain good, solid education and / or training, etc. would have affected their lives here in the US – in Milwaukee.

  • Cahty Talbott

    I am always struck by the tendency for the victims of economic downturn to blame themselves. And also struck by the responses of those who think they can find fault with the actions these people took. This economic crisis is systemic. The good, so-called “middle class” jobs are not coming back. I am recommending a video with a corresponding essay you can find if you google Digital Disruption: Technology and Economics for the 99% by Peter Brown. And I do like the comments of Denis Rigdon below. We need to rethink everything we’ve been taught here in America. We should not have to live this way, fighting each other over crumbs and blaming ourselves for the failures of a system.

  • Anonymous

    “Middle-class” has been overused to point of being vague and
    meaningless— it’s closer to being a buzzword (like synergy or “reinvent the wheel”) than a concept with a concrete definition.

    I think it’s fair to say that the days of someone, with only a high-school education, being able to own a home and have a comfortable life are long gone. However, determining whether all “middle-class” jobs are facing extinction hinges on the definition of what constitutes “middle-class.” Is it income? is it the ability to own home? Is it something else?

  • Cahty Talbott

    I’m referring to working class jobs based in a corporation that was for life, with benefits, etc. these are turning more into temp jobs. For a really good take on this, go to, look for Steven Miller’s artcle titled “Ain’t No Middle Class.”