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?)

8 comments:

the walking man said...

Laura, seeing as my concept of family was formed by The Three Stooges; The Brady Bunch always rang hollow to me. In one of your alternative realities did Greg whack Bobby nailing Peter on the back swing? Not only would I have liked the show much better had this scene been in it, The Brady's would have been less parody and more reality.

But then as a child of the 50's I suppose my vision is skewered, after all father rarely knew best and in the balance Theodore Cleaver worst fear was getting "hollered" at.

Michelle's Spell said...

I liked this post and the scenarios for the Bradys -- certainly more interesting (a little Flowers In the Attic action between Greg and Marsha would have made things very lively!). I'm trying to think what formed my idea of family -- my favorite shows as a child were Sanford and Son (very Grey Gardens, what with the claustrophobia of the father/son bond and the garbage business), All In The Family, and the Jeffersons. But I probably got the most ideas about living (in a practical sense) from Three's Company, God help me. Jack Tripper was such a great character - I so miss John Ritter!

Tia Nevitt said...

I identified with Jan as well, but I don't really have any clear memories of the episodes. They sort of all blur together in my mind.

Laura Benedict said...

The Brady boys as The Three Stooges--ha! Only they would've done it in faux-sepia film and the boys and Carol would've been laughing broadly before it was over.

I miss John Ritter, too, sweet Michelle. I always felt so naughty watching Three's Company. But Don Knotts--much as I like him--never worked for me.

Danielle Ferries said...

Every day after school I'd plant my butt in front of the TV for the Brady Bunch. I don't think I ever compared myself to any of the characters but I did envy Marsha very much, I thought she was wonderful although must say I did secretly enjoy the episode where she got hit in the face with the football. My evil little mind formed many years ago.

I love your new website too by the way.

D

Laura Benedict said...

Thanks, Danielle. I LOVED that episode!

btw--I sent you a new facebook friend. Elisabeth Hyde's The Abortionist's Daughter is a terrific book.

Danielle Ferries said...

Thanks Laura, I have added her as a friend. I checked about The Abortionist's Daughter and am going to order a copy, it sounds great.

mwillmoth said...

Laura,

I like your website. Pretty cool :-)

Although I grew up watching the Brady Bunch I remember one television guide listing it as the Brandy Bunch. My mother laughed and said it might help make it funnier. I never related to any of the kids, though. Might be partially because I'm an only child.

Mike Willmoth