Nuclear Family is a three-part documentary series following filmmaker Ry Russo-Young as she turns the camera on her own past to explore the meaning of family. In the late 70s/early 80s, when the concept of a LGBTQ+ family was inconceivable to most, Ry and her sister Cade were born to two lesbian mothers through sperm donors. Ry’s idyllic childhood was threatened by an unexpected lawsuit which sent shockwaves through her family’s lives and continues to reverberate today.
The docuseries explores the extraordinary story of a first-generation lesbian family, from its origins in outlaw counterculture, to the mainstream court system’s attack on and ultimate defense of Ry’s and her moms’ rights and existence, ending in a landmark legal decision that would change the way LGBTQ+ families were perceived forever. At its heart, this story of epochal conflict is also a tale about empathy, as Ry investigates the ambitions and desires of her moms, her sperm donor, and all their allies and enemies as she struggles to hear and accept their divergent perspectives. In a world of deeply polarized thinking, the docuseries proposes a way of understanding conflict that resonates with anyone who struggles with issues unresolved within their own families, their own lives, and in our broader world.
Nuclear Family is a Story Syndicate Production presented by Big Beach, Impact Partners and Topic Studios in association with BUNKER and Sustainable Films. It is directed by Ry Russo-Young and produced by Ry Russo-Young, Dan Cogan and Warren Fischer; executive producers, 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 docuseries includes excerpted footage from Our House, Meema Spadola's documentary in which Ry participated when she was a teenager.
Culture Closeup: Ry Russo-Young + Gabriela Herman
Ry Russo-Young (Director, Nuclear Family) and Gabriela Herman (Author, The Kids: The Children of LGBTQ Parents in the USA) sit down to talk more about the making of Nuclear Family and the Russo-Young family’s impact on LGBTQ+ family rights.
Queer Family Stories
Inspired by Ry Russo-Young’s telling of her own family’s story — we sat down with three families to learn a bit about their journeys and showcase the spectrum of what a queer family can look like.