“Here’s story of a man named Bradley…” Okay, okay, I’ll stop there.
The first episode of the Brady Bunch aired September 26, 1969, just two days before my 6th birthday. The series ended when I was ten and the show went into syndication almost immediately. When you think of all the hours I spent watching reruns after school, I thinks it’s safe to say I grew up with the Brady’s.
Brady Bunch Wannabe
What made The Brady Bunch so special? Everything. To a kid, like me, from a small Michigan town, in a home where tempers may flare at any second. The Brady Bunch was a big family full of love. Sure, they fought now and then, but within 30 minutes, all was right with the world. They even had a wacky maid. Their mom didn’t work, yet she still had a maid. How cool is that?
Being an extremely unhappy kid most of the time, I used my imagination a lot. One minute I’d be Captain Kirk; the next minute I’d be a forest ranger wandering the woods behind our house. I had dozens of characters I pretended to be. I didn’t realize it then, but all those times I was simply trying to get the self-talk in my head to shut the hell up.
While my imagination took me to fun and exciting places, what I truly wanted was very simple – to be a Brady
The Brady House
I remember my brother and I talking about how great the Brady house was. How especially cool was it that the modern California home was designed by the architect dad. The layout, the huge living room with the modern steps leading to the upstairs. The exterior shots of the Brady abode were of a home in Studio City, California. The producer, Sherwood Schwartz chose the house because it had a uniquely California look to it. Here’s what the place looked like during the Brady Bunch era:
I’m one who’s never given much thought to celebrities. I see celebs in grocery stores, restaurants, clubs, parties and more. I’d be interested enough to say, “Oh, look who’s over there,” but that’s always been about it. That changed when I saw the Brady House. That was the brush with greatness that left me stunned.
When I moved to L.A., the first area I lived in was Studio City. I went for a walk one day and meandered through the neighborhood when suddenly I made a dead stop. There before me was the Brady Bunch House. The fake upstairs window was gone, a fence had been built to keep out strangers, and the yard was littered with lawn ornaments, yet I spotted it immediately. It was THE house and just a short walk from where I lived. No matter how much the owners tried to disguise it, it jumped out at me immediately. For some reason I never took a photo of it, but I found a picture of it online. Here’s how it looks today:
Here’s some Brady Bunch trivia I got from IMBD:
- The boy who played Bobby, Mike Lookinland, actually had blonde hair. His hair was dyed black to match the other male cast members.
- Even though it was widely known that the show was set in the Los Angeles suburbs, the name of the specific town they lived in was never mentioned. It was never even said they were in California. The only hint they ever gave was Cindy saying she goes to Dixie Canyon Elementary School, which is an actual school in Studio City.
- The show was never a hit. In its five year run, it never reached below #34 in the Nielsen Ratings, but was kept on the air due to its young audience.
- Even though Greg dated a lot, we never actually see him kiss anyone of his dates. The only Brady kid that had a kissing scene is Bobby kissing a girl from his school named Millicent. Remember the fireworks?
This last one I can relate to:
- The show received lots of viewer fan mail, including a few letters from children asking if they could come live with the Bradys, since their own families were troubled or imperfect. Show creator Sherwood Schwartz answered those letters with a reminder that “The Brady Bunch” was only a television show, and the children would do best to make the most of their own home situations.
Did you have a desire to be a Brady, or did you have some other fantasy to take you away when you needed it?
18 comments on The Brady Bunch
The Bradys never interested me. My sister and I pretended to be Kirk and Spock or Superman and Superboy. We didn’t need no stinkin’ gender norms. We never even thought about them. And our parents never mentioned it if they did, which I doubt.
Good for you for breaking the gender norms and good for your parents for not instilling them in you.
I was a fan of the Bradys, but my imagination went to other characters. You’ve got me thinking. I can remember my mindtalk when I was young. I think I’ve always had a ‘loud’ voice to overcome what was going on in real life. Hmmm…
I’m curious. What were the other characters, if I may ask?
Other than Keith Partridge’s girlfriend, I liked to pretend I was a teacher, or Wilma Flintstone (because she had red hair like mine). I also wanted to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I have tried so hard to remember a favorite book I read as a child when I wanted to escape.The character and the setting of this book is still as vivid today as it was when I read it. One particular part of the book describes how a little girl was in her grandmother’s kitchen, the smell of cookies baking. There was snow outside and she was looking at a cardinal. I didn’t have such a warm, fuzzy childhood, and definitely not a loving grandma. I grew up with a depressed mom and a dad who worked hard and came home from work and worked hard at home. I followed him around most of the time….I suppose he was my escape because I liked watching him.
I wanted to be Keith Partidge’s boyfriend. lol The book that took me away from it all was “Where the Wild Things Are” It made me want to be an artist too
Oh yes! Keith had the most dreamy eyes, didn’t he?
I just loved the show and I grew up in L.A., but in Pacific Palisades during the 70’s. I’d be *stunned* if I went on a walk and came across the Brady house – OMG!!!! I’d freak. And I think that the current owners totally ruined it. It looks hideous.
I was shocked when I found out that Robert Reed was gay, not because I was homophobic (my best friend in high school Mike was gay, but sadly in the closet at the time). I was shocked because Reed had to keep such a huge part of him secret. So sad…
Wikipedia has an interesting page about him. Have you read it? I found out he was a trained Shakespearean actor & thought the Brady Bunch material was beneath him. I didn’t know that he was the 2nd choice for the role. Gene Hackman was the 1st. SO WRONG! I’m so glad that didn’t happen….and whoa – it says Shirley Jones turned down the role for Carol brady before Florence went for it!
Loved this post and your personal connection to it!
The home currently is even uglier than it looks in the picture. In their defense, they frequently had people coming to the door and asking for Alice and also wandering in the backyard to see if it was AstroTurf. You’re right about Robert Reed feeling the show was beneath him. Do you remember the hair tonic episode? That’s the one where Bobby sells hair tonic and it turns Greg’s hair orange. Robert Reed thought the script was ridiculous and refused to be in it. The show was cancelled that summer so that wound up being their final episode.
I watched the show a lot, but never really connected with anyone but Jan–overlooked and left out mostly. I guess that made me feel included in a way…………
I don’t know if I ever connected with any of the characters specifically; I’d say it was the entire package all together. California, the house, the maid, the loving family. If I had to narrow it down to any one of them, I’d say it was Peter. There were few episodes where I did connect with him. And besides, he grew up to be really hot. LOL
I loved the Brady Bunch. As cheezy as it was I was drawn to its wholesome, perfect, innocence. So unlike my own home life growing up. It was definitely an escape for me.
All the same reasons that I loved them. Great to see you Wil
I used to love watching the reruns during summer breaks! I didn’t really identify with any of them, but it was cool to see how a blended family (I think it’s called) could live together in mostly peace, compared to my blended family of 5 kids that was hellish.
I can relate to what your saying. There were 7 kids in my house and growing up there was no picnic. I think Mom and Dad thought it was important to stay together for the kids. They seemed clueless to the fact that breaking up would have been the best thing for us.
I would have been just under one month from turning five years old when it aired, making me ten when it finally ended. Our family watched it religiously. I remember the episode which ended with Peter getting the job at the pizza joint (after Marcia had to fire him from the ice creme parlor) and my dad asking if we wanted to go out for pizza, which was a big deal treat for us back then. (And I still don’t know if the tiki necklace caused Greg to fall off the surf board or saved him after he had fallen off).
One of the blessings of my life was that I had a happy childhood growing up middle class in the suburbs (Claremont) of San Diego with the typical family of four (The t.v. show “The Wonder Years” is almost eerily identical to my youth at that time before I turned a teenager, along with the similar older brother with blonde hair, I being the younger more precocious kid with dark hair). In a sense I saw the Brady Bunch as just a reflection of the way families were, just with more kids.
Yet even still I lived mostly in a fantasy realm. After watching the show “Gentle Ben” I used to turn one of the kitchen chairs over, with its metal legs and pretend I was piloting a hydrofoil boat through the everglades. And so on and so on. Whether it was a novel like Narnia or a National Geographic, I was always propelling myself into another place other than where I was. One might be able to say that an “over-active imagination” is a warning flag that something like bipolar was coming down the pike. [Just like I have said before that my attraction when I was a young child to songs like “Sounds of Silence,” “I am Rock” and the theme song to the film “M*A*S*H” (Suicide is painless. It brings on many changes) were probably warning signs, too.]
I’ve sung the M*A*S*H theme in my head over and over. Thanks for bringing up Gentle Ben. Loved that show and we so badly wanted one of those hydrofoils. Good question regarding overactive imaginations and bipolar (or other form of mental illness. I’m going to search around and see if any research has been done.