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They’ll Never Finish Remodeling The Brady Bunch

The title has nothing to do with the famous Brady Bunch house, which was remodeled. It's about the family itself, fictional as it is, because The Brady Bunch keeps coming back. The show wasn't all that big of a hit when it originally aired, beginning in 1969. But in syndication, it found new life and new fans, and eventually new adventures and new media.  

In a half-century, The Brady Bunch has evolved from sitcom to cartoon to variety show to drama to parody to reality series, molding and re-molding itself to fit the prevailing styles, tastes, and sensibilities of multiple eras. It all began in the late 1960s, when Gilligan’s Island producer Sherwood Schwartz wanted to capitalize on the different types of families that were following in the wake of a relatively new wave of no-fault divorce, the sort seen in big-screen comedies like Yours, Mine, And Ours and With Six You Get Eggroll. This was the zeitgeist that produced Schwartz’s famously blended Bradys, even if their show never mentioned the “d” word: a widower with three sons marrying a widow—or is she a divorcée?—with three daughters

The story of a lovely lady (Florence Henderson) bringing up three very lovely girls (Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, and Susan Olsen) and forming a family with a man named Brady (Robert Reed), who was busy with three boys of his own (Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, and Mike Lookinland), wasn’t much of a hit in its original broadcast run. The Brady Bunch aired on ABC for five seasons, beginning in 1969, yet never cracked the Nielsen Top 30. But other factors helped sustain the Bradys’ longevity. Previous sitcoms like Family Affair and The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father also had school-aged characters, but this one was primarily focused on the kids’ viewpoints, not the parents’. The younger Bradys had the adults greatly outnumbered, leading to a plethora of plots involving sibling rivalry, school, dating, and other topics that their peers watching at home could relate to.

Gwen Ihnat looks at the various incarnations of The Brady Bunch, but more importantly, delves into why the family became such a comfort to viewers that it never goes away, at the A.V. Club. -via Metafilter


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