Brady Bunch Show Sparks Trip Down Memory Lane

By Michel de Abreu

Doreen Morris is in a nostalgic mood when we meet one warm autumn afternoon. She’s keen to reminisce about her youth, and her favourite TV show in particular.

The Brady Bunch was the show that captured her 16-year-old imagination.

Her family didn’t watch a lot of television, but the show’s ”good, wholesome family fun [ensured] a lot of kids were allowed to watch it”.

Reflecting upon the Brady Bunch today, and how its idyllic world view measures up to modern norms, Doreen suggested that the show was “schmaltzy, compared to what’s going around today”.

“In those times there weren’t many sitcoms in Australia to watch, especially not family shows like that,” she recalled.

Portraying a utopian version of family life, the show has enjoyed surprisingly enduring popularity as a cultural icon over five decades later.

Show patriarch Mike, an architect, had three sons, and matriarch Carol, a homemaker, three daughters. And although Doreen grew up in a home with two parents and six children too, hers was not a blended family like the Bradys’.

“They lived in a beautiful house …. and we lived in a modest house” Doreen remembered.

She would daydream about the Brady home portrayed on TV, especially the pool that it boasted, replete with a housekeeper (Alice, hired to take care of the Brady brood) picking up and doing all the housework.

Although Doreen considered eldest Brady daughter Marcia a role model, Alice was her favourite character, as she infused the show with her characteristic dry wit: “She was more than a housekeeper, she was a counsellor to Mike and Carol and all the kids would go to her if they had issues.”

On hearing about how actress Maureen McCormick (who played Marcia) battled cocaine addiction, and depression, Doreen was surprised how at odds this was with her on screen character. She was equally intrigued to learn that Robert Reed (who portrayed father Mike) was a closeted gay man in real life.

As to whether the show would handle contemporary issues such as these if it aired today, Doreen grew pensive.

“These days in sitcoms, everything’s out in the open,” she conceded.

Could such an archly wholesome show in fact have evolved to address the issues faced by modern society, and indeed, would there be an audience for it?

With its outmoded, almost hokey values, the Brady Bunch seems, to jaded, latter-day eyes at least, just an endearing relic of yesteryear.

Featured image: Brady Bunch fan Doreen Morris considered the popular and attractive Marcia, portrayed by Maureen McCormick, a role model. Photos: Michel De Abreu and Gary Stockbridge/CC/Wikimedia Commons.

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