HBO has slated a three-part documentary series, Nuclear Family, about a first-generation lesbian family from filmmaker Ry Russo-Young (Before I Fall). The series premieres on September 26 and will air on subsequent Sundays, and will also be available to stream on HBO Max.
Nuclear Family is a personal story from Russo-Young, focusing on what it means to be a family. The series traces her childhood growing up with her sister and their lesbian mothers in the late 1970s and early ’80s, when her unconventional family was rocked by a lawsuit, the effects of which can still be felt today.
Born when sperm donation wasn’t available to lesbian couples, Russo-Young’s two mothers each gave birth with the help of different sperm donors, both gay men they met through a friend, and in the early years the family would visit their donors a few times a year. But when relations with one of the donors became strained and he sued for paternity and visitation rights, it threw the family into turmoil. Because one of Russo-Young’s mothers wasn’t related biologically, she wasn’t considered her parent and was barred from court proceedings as a stranger to the dispute, which began when Russo-Young was nine and lasted four years. The landmark case would result in a decision that would forever change how gay families were perceived.
Nuclear Family is directed and produced by Ry Russo-Young, and is a Story Syndicate Production presented by Big Beach, Impact Partners and Topic Studios in association with BUNKER and Sustainable Films. Executive producers are Liz Garbus, Jon Bardin, Julie Gaither, Jenny Raskin, Geralyn Dreyfous, Lauren Haber, Peter Saraf, Leah Holzer, Alex Turtletaub, Maria Zuckerman, Christine Connor, Ryan Heller, Barbara & Eric Dobkin, Andrea van Beuren, Joe Landauer. The series also includes excerpted footage from Our House, Meema Spadola’s documentary in which Russo-Young participated when she was a teenager.