The BEST Episodes of American Dreams

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Oct 23, 2020

Network: NBC

The death of John F. Kennedy introduced viewers to American Dreams. This series featured Meg Pryor and her Irish Catholic family living in Philadelphia. Meg's life changes when she is chosen to dance on American Bandstand and look beyond her strict father's view of life in order to become her own person.


#1 - Pilot

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 29, 2002

It's November 1963 and Meg Pryors dream is to appear on the Philly Based American Bandstand.Thanks to her best friend Roxanne, Meg finally gets the chance to appear, but her hopes are dashed when at dinner that night, Jack refuses to let her go on. While at the same time J.J. drops a bombshell on his dad and announces he doesn't wanna play football anymore, so he quit the team. Jack blames his girlfriend Beth and she storms out. Defying her father, Meg goes and does the show, in place of seeing Patty's spelling bee. Jack sees her on TV and when she's asked back as a regular, he refuses to let her appear. Meanwhile Helen struggles with her decision to stop having kids, of which Jack doesn't wanna hear,but finally accepts it.J.J. tells his coach he doesn't wanna play fottball, because he's being forced too and that took the fun out of it, but his coach says he should play anyway.Helen tries to talk Jack into letting Meg appear on the show,but he's made his decision. Which surprises and d

star 8.41
17 votes
Directors: David Semel
Writers: Jonathan Prince
The End of the Innocence

#2 - The End of the Innocence

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 6, 2002

Advance Preview It's Thanksgiving week in 1963, but, in the wake of the JFK assassination, no one feels thankful. Even Meg's selection as a Bandstand regular seems hollow to her---especially since best friend Roxanne (Vanessa Lengies) wasn't chosen. And the resentful Roxanne isn't going easy on Meg (Brittany Snow). Meanwhile, East Catholic's football team has a hole at running back without J.J. (Will Estes); and Helen (Gail O'Grady) gets together with the worldly Rebecca Sandstrom (Virginia Madsen) at Temple University.

star 8.36
11 votes
Directors: David Semel
Writers: Jonathan Prince
Pryor Knowledge

#3 - Pryor Knowledge

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Oct 20, 2002

Jack surprises Meg with the announcement that Jimmy stopped by the shop and asked to take her out and he is allowing her to go.Patty takes a liking to a new boy who is also a finalist in the spelling bee competetion.She listens in as Roxanne gives Meg some dating tips and takes one to heart,a little to much. Rebecca invites Helen and Jack on a double date with her and her economics-professor husband Leo. Meanwhile J.J. won't take Beth to a mixer, because he can't dance, that is until Meg teaches him. Jack can't stand Rebecca's out spoken boyfriend and wants to end the night early.Meg and Jimmy's first date goes from bad to worse, as she first talks on and on about cars and later accidently bloodies his nose. Beth tells J.J. she would rather go alone to the mixer.Not being able to reach her parents, Meg accepts an offer from Sam to walk her home, only to be stopped by the police. With the family looking on, Patty loses the spelling bee,only to be outed by Roxanne who knows she blew it o

star 8.33
6 votes
Writers: Emily Whitesell
The Home Front

#4 - The Home Front

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired Dec 1, 2002

As the Christmas season takes hold, Meg decides to spend more time with Luke, venturing to the rough streets of North Philly (with Roxanne) to hear him play with a local Church choir. Meanwhile, JJ catches the eye of a slightly older and more experienced country club employee and sneaks out of the house, just as Meg is sneaking in. Catching on to both of his older children's escapades, Jack implores a slightly uneven standard of discipline, by grounding Meg, but saying virtually nothing to J.J. Angering the family's growing feminist Helen. Patty finds out that Will broke the Virgin Mary, and replaces it with a slightly larger version. Elsewhere, Henry enjoys the recent success his advertising ideas have brought the store, but a few choice words from an over-eager friend leaves Jack concerned he might leave.

star 8.17
6 votes
Writers: Jon Harmon Feldman
City on Fire

#5 - City on Fire

Season 1 - Episode 25 - Aired May 18, 2003

In the season finale, racial tensions begin to flare in North Philly sparking a massive riot, while an oblivious Meg (Brittany Snow) makes final preparations for her sweet sixteen birthday party. Unaware of the violent situation building around her, Meg attempts to save her friendship with Sam (Arlen Escarpeta), visiting him at the new store, and finds herself in the middle of the urban chaos. Elsewhere, an angry Nathan (guest star Keith Robinson) who helped incite the violence, urges the enraged rioters forward, while Pete (guest star Matthew John Armstrong) and the rest of Philadelphia's finest race to quell the disturbance. Meanwhile, a defeated JJ (Will Estes) returns from Lehigh after being kicked off the football team and makes a surprising announcement to Jack (Tom Verica) and Helen (Gail O'Grady) about his future, while Michael Brooks (Joe Lawrence) reveals the possibility he might be leaving ""Bandstand"" for a new record-producing gig in California. R&B sensation Kelly Rowland

star 8.14
7 votes
Soldier Boy

#6 - Soldier Boy

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Nov 3, 2002

Roxanne is positive Meg is the ""Blurry Girl"" in a teen Magazine dancing with Jimmy Riley. Jack and Helen are in New York for a reunion of Jack's World War II unit. Beth tries in vain to reach J.J. but he cuts her off again. Later Meg meets Jay of Jay and The American's as he performs their hit ""Come a Little Bit Closer"" at a Bandstand rehearsal. He and Meg hit it off as does Roxanne and Carl the drummer. They plan a party for that night at the Pryor's house. Meanwhile in New York, Helen is approached by a man who claims Jack saved his life during the war. Patty finds out about the Party and wants to impress her spelling-bee foe Kevin by inviting him to party with Jay Black. J.J. and Will find Jack's 'Medal of Honor' while moving the last of the stuff from Meg's new room to the garage. Jay suggests to Meg and Roxanne they go some place else instead for the party. Beth and Kevin both show up, while J.J. and Beth have a fight, Patty and Kevin wait awkwardly for Meg to get home, which she never does. Meg realizing too late she hurt her sister's feelings, tries to make amends. Lastly Jack relates the story behind the medal to the whole family.

star 8.00
6 votes
Directors: Bill D'Elia
Writers: John Romano
High Hopes

#7 - High Hopes

Season 1 - Episode 24 - Aired May 11, 2003

JJ, tender ankle and all, arrives at Lehigh to begin football practice. And Roxanne, who's still on the outs with Meg, meets someone she has been on the outs with for eight years: her father. Meanwhile, Meg gets her learner's permit and wants Luke to teach her to drive. And the Girard Avenue store is about to open, but the timing could be better: riots in Harlem have prompted the Philadelphia police to consider a curfew for North Philly.

star 8.00
5 votes
For Richer, For Poorer

#8 - For Richer, For Poorer

Season 3 - Episode 12 - Aired Jan 23, 2005

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.

star 8.00
3 votes
Directors: Eric Laneuville
Writers: John Romano
Act of Contrition

#9 - Act of Contrition

Season 1 - Episode 16 - Aired Mar 2, 2003

In the first track meet of the season, JJ (Will Estes) and Sam (Arlen Escarpeta) square off to determine who will race one of the fastest runners in the city, creating a new-found relationship between this unlikely pair. Meanwhile, after their break-up, Meg (Brittany Snow) and Luke (Jamie Elman) try to figure out exactly what to call their relationship with the help of confidents Roxanne (Vanessa Lengies) and record storeowner Mr. Greenwood (guest star Art Garfunkel). Elsewhere, Helen's (Gail O'Grady) classmates lead her to believe that their professor, Mr. Witt (guest star Robby Benson), has a crush on her. Musical guest star India.Arie portrays Nina Simone performing at the Vinyl Crocodile record store. Tom Verica, Sarah Ramos and Ethan Dampf also star.

star 7.83
6 votes
Life's Illusions

#10 - Life's Illusions

Season 2 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 26, 2003

Meg attends a free speech rally with Drew at the college. Roxanne's new relationship with Lenny is tested after he throws a party at her house. JJ is tempted to cheat on Beth with a mysterious woman he meets at a bar. JJ also recieves some exciting news. Beth finally recieves her ring from JJ and they set a date for their wedding. The Walker family must deal with the tragic loss of the matriarch in their family.

star 7.75
4 votes
The Long Goodbye

#11 - The Long Goodbye

Season 2 - Episode 9 - Aired Nov 30, 2003

As JJ prepares to leave he and Beth celebrate their engagement. Beth and her mother can not seem to agree upon anything while JJ and Meg continue to fight about Drew. Will is still in the hospital. Roxanne continues to tour with Lenny. Roxanne decides that she loves Lenny but she can not continue to tour with them.

star 7.75
4 votes
Stewart's Charge

#12 - Stewart's Charge

Season 2 - Episode 18 - Aired Mar 28, 2004

Jason Mraz (Dion) and Fefe Dobson (Tina Turner) are the guest impersonators on Bandstand, where Roxanne wants a hairstyling job. She also has boy woes: Lenny's return has clearly rattled Luke. Meanwhile, Beth makes a decision about her pregnancy; Nathan (Keith Robinson) is drafted, and Sam tries to get Meg to talk to Drew about his CO status; JJ's unit goes on a mission with a by-the-book new corporal (John Sloan); Jack considers his political options over coffee with Will's former teacher, the former Sister Grace (Robyn Lively); Will might be made to repeat fourth grade; and Patty uses hamster chips to get closer to Carl (Wes Robinson).

star 7.75
4 votes
Directors: Randall Zisk
Writers: Joshua King
The Fighting Irish

#13 - The Fighting Irish

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 27, 2002

Jimmy (still sporting a shiner from their first date) asks Meg to be his partner on Bandstand. A Notre Dame recruiter is interested in JJ, but when J.J. doesn't show Jack will have to carry the ball for his son. Patty wants a new water heater and goes around timing everyone's showers to show they need one. Beth tries her best to get through to J.J., but he brushes her off and while Jack is meeting with the recruiter, he gets drunk with Tommy. Helen's walks out on the doctor,when she firsts goes about birth control.Megs thinks her and Jimmy are destined to be a real couple,but he says he only wants to be friends. Jack gives J.J. the cold shoulder over his blowing off the Recruiting meeting. Helen returns to the doctor a second time and it goes much smoother. Things change at the big game,when the team needs a big play, J.J. fakes an injury, before scoring the game winning touchdown on the play Jack taught him.

star 7.67
6 votes
Directors: David Semel
Writers: Jon Harmon Feldman
What Dreams May Come

#14 - What Dreams May Come

Season 3 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 7, 2004

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.

star 7.67
3 votes
Writers: Jason Wilborn
The Commencement

#15 - The Commencement

Season 3 - Episode 14 - Aired Mar 9, 2005

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.

star 7.67
3 votes
Directors: Mark Piznarski
Writers: Becky Hartman Edwards
California Dreamin'

#16 - California Dreamin'

Season 3 - Episode 15 - Aired Mar 16, 2005

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. ~Graciem

star 7.67
3 votes
Directors: Jim Chory
Writers: Liz Tigelaar
And Promises to Keep

#17 - And Promises to Keep

Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 28, 2003

In the episode, Meg find herself getitng a little too close to Sam. Causing questions after she defends Sam when he sticks up for a friend being teased for race. After defending, her dad finds out and suspends her from bandstand. Roxanne is shocked to learn the Bandstand Director is leaving. JJ questions Beth's trust, and the only way to not worry-engangment? Helen looks into surgery for Will and against her doctor's best advice calls a clinic. Kelly Clarkson performed

star 7.60
5 votes
Directors: David Semel
Writers: Jonathan Prince

#18 - R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 5, 2003

Episode 2 rolls in as Meg continues to live life without Bandstand, while Roxanne tries to keep her on before she is replaced. JJ undergoes major training at camp while Patty is promoted to academic success, to the frustration of Meg. Luke and Meg see the end of their relationship while getting further from Meg is Sam's choice. Helen searches for more opinions on Will's surgery while the couple prepares for a dinner with Beth's parents.

star 7.60
5 votes
Another Saturday Night

#19 - Another Saturday Night

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired Oct 12, 2003

Saturday Night hits Philly as the Pryor women go exploring. Helen heads to New York with Uncle Pete's girlfriend to see a show and a new emerging side of womanhood, beset with temptations. Patty, starting high school, learns new lessons in social skills in trying to make friends. Meg, completely broken off from Luke, goes to her first college party, with serious consequences. Roxanne starts at the Vinyl Crocodile with Luke still in the background as JJ continues with military training. In addition, Sam finds out how his cousin Nathan really makes his money

star 7.60
5 votes
New Frontier

#20 - New Frontier

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Oct 13, 2002

To Meg's utter amazement she is asked to dance by Bandstand regular Jimmy Riley,before he is whisked away by another regular Teresa. J.J. quietly rejoins the football team. While Henry's son Sam earns a track scholarship to almost-all-white East Catholic. Jack invites Sam to dinner to meet J.J., being that their both now on the track team. Meg is informed by Teresa to be wary of Jimmy Riley. J.J. gets upset when he finds out Beth applied to Stanford. Helen tries to find a class that will fit her busy schedule at Temple. A Rumor starts circulating about Meg and Jimmy Riley ""doing it"",which Roxanne thinks is great,because it means Meg's important now. J.J. hears Beth's father call him a ""Catholic kid from West Philly"" to his country-club friends. Meg is asked out on her first date by Jimmy Riley and she readily accepts. While J.J. dominates the competetion in his return to the gridiron.

star 7.56
9 votes
Directors: Dan Lerner
Writers: Becky Hartman Edwards
One in a Million

#21 - One in a Million

Season 3 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 14, 2004

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.

star 7.50
2 votes
Directors: Jim Chory
Writers: Mick Foley
Truth Be Told

#22 - Truth Be Told

Season 3 - Episode 11 - Aired Jan 9, 2005

Chris is questioned by police about the recruitment-center bombing, and has a special date with Meg. And Beth and JJ plan their wedding, but a problem arises: Which church?

star 7.50
4 votes
Directors: Emily Whitesell
Writers: Josh Reims
Cold Snap

#23 - Cold Snap

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 10, 2002

Meg is angered to hear Luke, the new record shop employee, talking bad about the music she's about to buy. Elsewhere, a sudden cancellation of his deal to supply a hotel with all there new TV's, forces Jack to examine his family's financial outlook and question his own business philosophy. Sam, who is still adapting to life at East Catholic high school deals with a prank gone too far by the football team, while JJ looks on, unable or unwilling to intervene. While Roxanne uses her Bandstand connections to start her own business of selling autographed 45's, starting with Marvin Gaye. Discovering Luke slipped her a Bob Dylan record instead, Meg rushes back to the store to conmfront him. The Prank gets Tommy suspended and he threatens Sam until J.J. intervenes, which draws a nasty response from Sam. Michael shuts down Roxanne's new business, while Jack tries in vain to still make the big Hotel sell, but it's all for not as Mr. Healey refuses to buy them. Lastly, the bitter cold of the nigh

star 7.43
7 votes
Writers: Rama Stagner
Crossing the Line

#24 - Crossing the Line

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired Oct 19, 2003

Helen learns the pressuers of being a working mom when she takes a job at a travel agency. Meanwhile Beth goes to visit JJ at Camp Lejeune and is surprised at the results. Meg wants to prove that she is grown up and does her book report on a controversial book. Roxanne is excited with the prospects of her new boyfriend.

star 7.40
5 votes
Rescue Me

#25 - Rescue Me

Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired Nov 2, 2003

Roxanne's relationship with Lenny begins to heat up as things are pushed to the next level. JJ's relationship with Diane, the mysterious woman from the bar takes an unexpected turn when he finds out who's wife she is. Meg must take a long hard look at her relationship with Drew after finding out that he is seeing other people. Jack wants Helen to quit her job after finding out that Will's surgery will be funded by the March of Dimes. The Walkers must put their lives back together after the death of their mother.

star 7.40
5 votes
Directors: David Semel