Rent A Family (Part 1)

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Rent A Family (Part 1)[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, 1 hour
Preceded by: Nightride
Followed by: Rent A Family (Part 2)

"Anyway they closed the office and they let me go."

Rent A Family (Part 1) is the name of a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series Work In Progress. It was originally broadcast in 1987.


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.

Interesting Facts

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.



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