Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Origins: The Brady Bunch
So, which Brady were you? I always identified with Jan, who wore glasses and had all those middle-kid issues that her male counterpart Peter never seemed to have. I despised Cindy and envied Marsha to the point of dislike. It was probably self-hatred on my part because I was actually most like Marsha--self-absorbed and blond--only without the good grades and football-player boyfriends.
The Brady Bunch made me want to be part of an enormous family. I secretly, briefly ached for my lovebird parents to get a divorce so I could have really cute older step-brothers who would have really cute friends. (I had two younger sisters--we always begged our parents to adopt us an older brother.) I wanted to move to California, too. Everything looked so clean and cheerful in California, unlike Kentucky which had tornadoes and Ohio River Valley humidity.
The show was unabashedly unrealistic, of course. The bathrooms had no toilets and Mike's office didn't seem to be actually a part of the house. And there was Astroturf in the backyard. Best of all, the family had a freaking housekeeper! What, exactly, did Mrs. Brady do all day? It was escapism at its finest.
I used to make up scenarios for the characters and re-plot the episodes. While I craved the predictability of the situations, I also liked that I knew the characters well enough to give them other things to do. I wanted them to run away from home, when they fought, I wanted to see actual blood, I wanted Marsha and Greg to--*gasp*--kiss! I wanted ex-Mrs. Brady and Carol's ex-husband to show up and demand their rightful places as parents. (They were dead, I think. But I wasn't in my zombie phase yet, so their adventures were rather pedestrian and involved drawing-room comedy situations.) Most of all, I wanted to appear in the episodes as a cousin, a friend, a sister, or a neighbor. I imagined myself going to Hollywood and walking onto the set like I belonged there. Though I was never really interested in actually meeting Greg. I didn't feel like I could trust him.
I never watched those creepy Brady follow-up shows--not intentionally, anyway. I think I stumbled on a wedding one once. Plus, I saw the bizarre feature film. Some things are best left un-satirized. (Wasn't the sitcom satire enough?!) But I did see a couple of episodes of the reality show during which Christopher Knight(Peter) and Adrienne Curry (ANTM winner) planned their wedding. I don't have much hope for them, though. Peter was just never a serious person.
(Brady photo via. I also took the Brady Bunch quiz there. Eight out of ten correct! Is that as sad as I think it might be?)