The Brady Bunch
The Brady Bunch was the last of the classic television family sitcoms, beloved by most Americans but hated by Leftists. It ran on ABC from 1969 to 1974. The show was about a suburban Los Angeles blended family where a formerly-married housewife named Carol Martin (Florence Henderson) with three daughters married architect widower Mike Brady (Robert Reed) who had three sons and a live-in housekeeper Alice (Ann B. Davis). The adults are all deceased now but most of the children reunite for television specials, including one for Christmas 2021 entitled "Blending Christmas." Liberals refused to honor this show but in 2007 the TV Land Award gave it top prize for "Pop Culture."Far
Far more than other sitcom from the 1970s, reunion shows have broken records continuing nearly 50 years later, as A Very Brady Renovation set a ratings record for HGTV in 2019. On December 18, 1988, A Very Brady Christmas became the second most-watched television movie of the entire year.
The writing for this show was some of the finest in all of television history, featuring conservative plots without the liberal propaganda that infested rival shows like the offensively stereotypical, media-promoted All in the Family. Nearly every episode of The Brady Bunch had a theme with a conservative lesson about growing up, and the cinematography fully used color along with a pleasant southern California suburban setting. Liberals apparently prevented the show from winning awards commonly given to less creative and influential shows. Ann Davis is ranked 33rd on the list of conservative actresses and entertainers. One of its more famous episodes uncovered deceit by a plaintiff's personal injury lawsuit, and this message was contrary to liberals' political reliance on trial attorneys' donations.
The casting for the show was perfect also, featuring multiple highly talented stars in their own right. Few would deny that Florence Henderson was perfect for her role, as were many of the children and the maid. Robert Reed was an accomplished Shakespearean actor who generously took the "family" to England once to see those plays.
Ranked as the 6th greatest sitcom of the 1970s, this show in becoming more popular in syndicated reruns than it had been initially. But the cast never received royalties from the syndicated success after 1979, because of how acting contracts were then written. As a result of its enduring and even increasing popularity, several reunion spinoffs were produced, such as The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (1976–77), The Brady Brides (1981), and The Bradys (1990).
Multiple successful movies were also made featuring the Brady family, such as the immensely successful made-for-TV Very Brady Christmas (1988 - featuring most of the original cast), the theatrical Brady Bunch Movie (1995 - produced as a hybrid homage/parody featuring a new cast), the theatrical Very Brady Sequel (1996), and the made-for-TV Brady Bunch Goes to Washington (2002 - made in the style of the 1990s movies). The Brady Bunch Movie had cameo appearances by many of the original stars and was quite profitable, while its sequel was less so.
The show is considered to be the last of the old style classic family sitcoms, as soon after it debuted, the networks started switching away from family based programming to more adult oriented fare aimed at a younger, more urban demographic believed to be more appealing to advertisers (the biggest example of this programming philosophy was the CBS "Rural Purge" of 1971). In spite of this, The Brady Bunch stayed true to its family-oriented style throughout its entire run, with most episodes often featuring stories revolving around family life, dealing with people, and learning life lessons/morals.
|Robert Reed||Mike Brady|
|Florence Henderson||Carol Brady|
|Ann B. Davis||Alice Nelson|
|Maureen McCormick||Marcia Brady|
|Eve Plumb||Jan Brady|
|Susan Olsen||Cindy Brady|
|Barry Williams||Greg Brady|
|Christopher Knight||Peter Brady|
|Mike Lookinland||Bobby Brady|
|Allan Melvin||Sam Franklin||Alice's boyfriend|
Appears in eight episodes spanning all five seasons
|Robbie Rist||Cousin Oliver||Carol's nephew who moved in with the family|
Appears in the final six episodes of the series
Behind the scenes
With five seasons, a lot happened behind the scenes, with a lot of it being said by Barry Williams in his 1992 autobiography “Growing up Brady,” which got turned into a biopic of the same name eight years later. Despite some inevitable friction, the entire cast of children reunited for multiple shows nearly 50 years later.
Barry Williams always had a crush on Maureen McCormick, and the two shared a kiss during the Hawaii three-parter to open Season 4. Later in the same season, “A Room At the Top,” it was frustrating for the show's creator and executive producer Sherwood Schwartz to make due to Williams and McCormick acting like boyfriend-girlfriend rather than brother-sister. McCormick wasn't the only one Williams kissed, or dated. As he took Florence Henderson on a date, and later kissed. Despite all of that, Williams said that the first people to hook up on the show were Mike Lookinland and Susan Olsen who made out in Tiger's doghouse which wasn't being used due to the dog's death between the first two seasons. Olsen later confirmed this, and said she named her son after Lookinland.
Robert Reed (1932-1992), originally in a traditional marriage and then a divorce, privately became a homosexual who never publicized that although his co-star Florence Henderson knew as early as the pilot for the show and over time all the cast members reportedly became aware of it. Henderson noticed that Reed was uncomfortable with all the romance scenes, so the two would often practice. After Reed died, Henderson and Barry Williams talked about the matter, and speculated that the pressure of potential publicity then in the early 1970s about Reed's secret life may have contributed to his unhappiness during the tenure of the show. Reed opposed some of the silly scripts preferred by the show's writer Sherwood Schwartz, which became such a problem that Reed refused to do the last episode “The Hair-Brained Scheme” (which was the second episode Reed wasn't in). In that episode Greg graduates from high school but, after buying Bobby's hair tonic out of pity, it turns his hair orange. Reed, as an accomplished Shakespearean actor, preferred more serious stuff, and it can be argued that he put up with the show because he loved the cast. Reed preferred ‘The Brady Bunch Variety Hour’ as he could be on the stage singing and dancing.
But other reports are that Robert Reed was a genuinely serious actor who had legitimate disagreements with some of the silliness and factual implausibilities in the show, such as hair tonic turning someone's hair orange or strawberries have an aroma when cooked. All agreed that Robert Reed deeply cared for his on-air family, and the feeling was mutual. Florence Henderson said that telling the "kids" that Reed was terminally ill was one of the hardest things she ever did.
Sherwood Schwartz in the early 1990s spoke about why he kept the show lighthearted rather than following the trends that worked with All In the Family.
"I honestly think I could sit down and write a show tonight that the critics would love, and I know it would be canceled within four weeks … I know what the critics love. We write and produce for people, not for critics."
“A lot of people say television holds up a mirror to life, and that’s why you see all the drug busts and the killings and the seamier side of life … I personally take the view that as a responsible producer, it’s not sufficient to portray only negative role models. I think it’s better to give an alternative. It’s not enough to say ‘no’ to drugs. What do you say ‘yes’ to?”
The Brady Bunch was so popular in syndication that:
|“||By 1976, reruns of “The Brady Bunch” actually beat the vice-presidential debate in ratings. At the time of its 30th anniversary, each of the 117 episodes was estimated to have aired more than 100,000 times around the world.||”|
Notable Guest Stars
During its five season run, The Brady Bunch, had some guest stars.
- Wes Parker, who was a six time Golden Glover for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was in the Season 1 episode “The Undergraduate” to convince Greg to focus on his grades instead of crushing on his teacher, who also happens to be Parker's fiancée.
- Don Drysdale who was a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers showed in the Season 2 premiere “The Dropout” to encourage Greg in his pitching.
- Davy Jones, a former member of 1960s music group the Monkees (which also had its own two-season series on NBC from 1966 to 1968), is arguably the most famous guest star, being in the Season 3 classic “Getting Davy Jones.” Jones later spoofed his own appearance by guest starring in the 1995 movie.
- 'Brady Bunch' stars will reunite for Christmas movie
- Ann B. Davis biography at IMDb
- The 25 Greatest Sitcoms of the '70s at IMDB