The Brady Bunch
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Until the one day when the lady met this fellow
The Brady Bunch is a 1969-1974 Dom Com about an unattached woman named Carol with three daughters marrying widower Mike Brady with three sons, and the almost total lack of conflict which results. The blended family includes the star-studded athlete Greg, the popular and beautiful Marcia, the slightly clumsy Peter, the insecure Jan, the day-dreaming Bobby, and the snooping Cindy. The family is joined with Alice, their housekeeper that makes self-depreciating jokes.
Sherwood Schwartz (previously of Gilligan's Island fame) developed and produced the series. He was shopping the show around to networks for a year or so before it was picked up to capitalize on the success of Yours Mine And Ours, a 1968 feature film about another large blended family. (This was obliquely acknowledged by the makers of A Very Brady Sequel when they selected one of the stars of Yours Mine And Ours, Tim Matheson, to play Carol Brady's long-lost first husband...sorta).
Never a huge hit in its initial network run on ABC, the show became inexplicably popular (perhaps through its Theme Tune, and the songs they did?) once it went to daily syndication in the late '70s, and a cultural icon (and eventual subject of vast quantities of nostalgia and derision in equal measure) for Gen-Xers. Over the years, the show gained two made-for-TV reunion movies and a couple of spin-offs. Moreover, the actors of the children have appeared in specials and game-shows numerous times.
In the years since the show's cancellation, various tidbits have come to light regarding the show and its cast: like its sister series Gilligan's Island, the concept grated on several of the cast members (several actors were busy most of the time sending angry memos to the producers about the horrible scripts they had to work with). Also, there were behind-the-scenes romance stories between almost every member of the cast. Oh, and Tiger (the dog) was actually two dogs; the 'original' Tiger wandered off the set one day looking for a place to 'do his business' and was promptly hit by a truck.
For the 1990s version, see Step by Step. The manga Little House With an Orange Roof has a very similar premise.
The show has had several continuations and spin-offs. Tropes can be found on these pages:
- Absentee Actor: Robert Reed refused to appear in the original show's final episode, finding its plot (Bobby selling Greg a shampoo that turns his hair orange) to be too ridiculous.
- An Aesop
- Alliterative Title
- Animated Adaptation: The Brady Kids.
- As Himself: Barry Williams and creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz in present day sequences of the TV Movie version of "Growing Up Brady".
- Beware the Nice Ones: Ann B. Davis, when Robert Reed got her pissed off enough, or when she was forced to work with Rip Taylor in The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. In the latter instance, no explanation has been offered by Davis, as she has refused to talk about her experiences on the program ... even to longtime friend and co-star Susan Olsen (who wrote a book about the series); it has been speculated that she viewed Taylor's act as profane and contrary to her Christian beliefs. With Reed, Davis let him know her feelings whenever she finally had enough of his complaining about a script he believed was poorly written, that a given scene was unrealistic, and so forth.
- As far as the original series, Peter, in "A Fistful of Reasons". Peter was generally even-tempered and willing to get others to reason with him, but when he is pushed to the breaking point – as he is when bully Buddy Hinton continually eggs him on for his refusal to fight (and defend Cindy's honor) – he can make others regret it.
- Big Damn Movie: The first film involved them saving their neighborhood from being turned into a shopping mall.
- Bizarrchitecture: Requested by Beebee Gallini (she wanted Mike to design a cosmetics factory that looked like a perfume bottle, poo-poohing Mike's advice that such buildings would structurally fail).
- And let's not overlook the fact that the exterior of the Brady house (which spreads out side-to-side) doesn't jive with the interior (which spreads out from front to back). When HGTV bought the house used for exterior Stock Footage in 2018 and remodeled it to match the sets inside, they had to add a wing and do such odd things as putting Greg's attic room in the basement.
- Born In The Wrong Decades: The eponymous family in the movies.
- Brainless Beauty: Marcia in the movies, especially A Very Brady Sequel:
Marcia: "He even wrote something in my yearbook in French! "Menage A Trois." I bet that means "You're the most.""
- Brand X: Several examples, most famously with the brand of laundry soap the family uses – Safe, as viewers learn in "And Now a Word From Our Sponsor". This was the episode where a "hip" movie producer hires the Bradys to act in a TV commercial for Safe, but Mike – speaking for the family – will agree to do so only if Safe can beat their current laundry detergent. Before testing Safe against the family's current detergent, Best, Carol rattles off the names of the other soaps she and Alice have used: Champ the Dirt Fighter, Clear & Bright and Help.
- In a Truth in Television moment, Mike rolls his eyes as Carol explains the family's laundry detergent history. Indeed, Robert Reed, in his scathing memo about the episode, reprinted in Barry Williams' book "I Was a Teenaged Greg", said he was annoyed at the scriptwriter's use of one-syllable words for laundry detergent names (an "obvious writer's technique" that was clichéd and made Carol sound like a ninny, Reed contended).
- Canon Discontinuity: In The Brady Girls Get Married, The Brady Brides, A Very Brady Christmas, and The Bradys, nobody ever acknowledges the year the family spent as Variety Show stars in The Brady Bunch Hour.
- The Cast Showoff: Eve Plumb was one hell of an artist, which made its way into a few episodes and eventually became Jan's major talent. Florence Henderson was also known for her beautiful voice, which led to two episodes revolving around Carol singing.
- Florence Henderson also sang the theme to The Bradys.
- Celebrity Star
- Cheaters Never Prosper: Reversed with Greg, who has on more than one occasion shown his integrity and desire for honesty in tough situations. For instance, in Season 1's "Vote for Brady", class president hopeful Greg breaks off his friendship with a boy named Rusty after the latter makes a suggestion that they spread an unflattering rumor about Greg's opponent – stepsister Marcia – being seen in the balcony of a movie theater with a seedy boy.
- Played straight in "Quarterback Sneak", from Season 5, where dishonest quarterback Jerry Rogers tries to steal Greg's playbook by lying to Marcia about his romantic interest in her, then actually stealing the playbook (check that, a fake playbook that Greg had created when he learned that his rival is resorting to stealing playbooks). Greg – who admittedly sometimes twists the rules to suit his own situation – admits what he did to his father, after Mike counsels him that by stooping to Jerry's level, he's actually harming the players of the opposing team who chose to play by the rules. In the end, Jerry is thrown off the opponent's team, and Greg quarterbacks his team to a big win.
- Christmas Episode
- Classically-Trained Main Actor: Robert Reed, no doubt fuelling many of the squabbles between him and Sherwood Schwartz.
- Parodied in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
- Cooking Duel: Several, between the boys and the girls.
- Cowboy Episode: The Brady Bunch had a dude ranch episode.
- Crack Defeat
- Criminal Doppelganger: An episode had Peter being mistaken for a lookalike kissing bandit at his school.
- Dark Horse Victory: See article for details.
- Deconstruction: The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel.
- Also The Real Live Brady Bunch, an early '90s stage show in which original episode scripts were performed word-for-word, but with a self-consciously Camp sensibility that anticipated the tone of the films.
- Did Not Do the Research: What Robert Reed often accused the Schwartzes and various writers of doing with the scripts. In addition, Reed's criticisms have fallen in the bad writing and They Just Didn't Care tropes.
- In the Schwartzes' memoir about the series, Lloyd (son of Sherwood) refuted Reed's scathing critique of the infamous final episode ("The Hair-Brained Scheme") by contending there had been well-publicized real-life examples of people having their hair damaged by hair gels, and magazine "get-rich quick" advertisements enticing children to sell overstock of discontinued products. Reed refused to accept the explanation — he insisted that the episode was written as cheap slapstick, and that no kid Bobby's age would be able to identify with him in wanting to engage in a money-making scheme—and demanded that he be written out of the episode.
- Disco Dan: The entire family, in The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel.
- Ridiculously with Greg's "Johnny Bravo" facade.
- DIY Disaster: Greg bought a used car and tried to fix it up, part of the result of which was faulty wiring. The horn made the windshield wipers work, for example.
- Drunk with Power: Supposedly what happens to Bobby when he becomes hall monitor.
- Exact Words: To circumvent a severe punishment for insubordination, Greg gets his parents to agree to go by the letter of house rules and pre-stated agreements.
- Extremely Overdue Library Book: In the episode, title "The Private Ear", one of the Dark Secrets that Greg has was that he doesn't want anyone to know (save Marcia)...Until Peter lets his big brother know that the library won't be very happy, that he'd better pay the fine, and that he might eventually face the music with the folks.
- Expository Theme Tune: "And that's the way we all became the Brady Bunch!"
- Also a Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune (sung by the Brady kids) beginning in the second season.
- Fashion Dissonance: The fifties? Over? Fah! Not in Mike's house!
- The Film of the Series: The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), A Very Brady Sequel (1996).
- Flanderization: The theatrical films exaggerated the characters' personalities a bit such as Jan's jealousy towards Marcia and Cindy's tattling, but true to the show. They were the characters from the later seasons stuck in the 1990s. The TV movie The Brady Bunch in the White House made them unlovable parodies, such as Marcia crying when she got captain of the cheerleading squad and the vote wasn't unanimous.
- Flat Character: Marcia got all the teenage drama and coming of age stories, Cindy got all the cute child plot lines, what was Jan? She was the middle child, that's pretty much the full extent of her character.
- Actually, being the middle child made her anything but flat as it gave her an insecure, neurotic personality that lent itself to the most relatable storylines. (Who doesn't remember being afraid their glasses make them look geeky, or being jealous of an older sibling?)
- Flirty Stepsiblings: Greg and Marcia in A Very Brady Sequel. Averted on the actual show.
- Forced Prize Fight: The siblings build a house of cards to determine who gets to use a large collection of trading stamp books to buy their desired prize (after they are unable to compromise on an item everyone can enjoy).
- Framed Face Opening
- Friends Rent Control: A stay-at-home wife, six kids, and a full-time housekeeper, all being supported by one staff architect's salary. Yet the kids all have their own bikes, they vacation in Hawaii, and nobody complains about wearing hand-me-downs except when it serves the plot for money to be tight.
- They didn't "vacation" in Hawaii. Mike was working on a new building in Hawaii and Mr. Phillips said to bring the whole family along because he was just that good of an architect and that valuable to the company. Same with going to King's Island Amusement Park. Mike didn't pay for any of it. (And how do we know neither of them had money from family, or from their former spouse, etc?)
- Full House Music: Years before the trope namer was so much a twinkle in the eyes of Miller-Boyett, The Brady Bunch made liberal use of mellow or dramatic music cues, often at a dramatic point or (even more often) as Mike or Carol offered the moral for that particular episode.
- Game Show Appearance: Cindy (on a College Bowl-type game).
- Marsha and Jan on The Newlywed Game on a Brady Brides episode.
- Gender Equal Ensemble: Not counting the housekeeper, the titular family consists of one father with three boys and one mother with three daughters.
- Arguably the female housekeeper could be balanced by the male dog.
- Gilligan Cut: Despite Mike, Tiger comes to the Brady wedding. Hilarity Ensues.
- Girlish Pigtails: Cindy.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"
- The Unfavourite: Jan certainly feels that way often enough.
- Groin Attack: In a movie, Peter accidentally steps on a bass drum pedal, resulting in this to a guy that had been tormenting him at school.
- Hair of Gold: The Brady women, per the Expository Theme Tune.
- Happily Adopted: Mike evidently legally adopted the girls, since they go by the name of Brady for the entire series.
- Happily Married: Mike and Carol
- Hearing Voices: Jan and Cindy in The Brady Bunch Movie.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: The Dittmeyers, who lived next door to the Bradys. They were eventually shown in - and played a major role in the plot of - The Brady Bunch Movie.
- We do see Mr. Dittmeyer in one episode (probably in the one where Carol and Cindy have their tonsils taken out postponing the family's trip on Mr. Phillips boat) where Alice is practicing casting a fishing line into a bucket and she overshoots it over the fence and hooks Mr. Dittmeyer. But it was a throwaway gag in the last segment of an episode.
- Homage: The subject of many.
- Identical Stranger: "Two Petes in a Pod".
- I Owe You My Life: "My Brother's Keeper".
- Its Always Sunny in Miami: There has never once been a rainy day on the Brady Bunch. Could be explained away that they live in Southern California but a more practical Real Life reason is probably that they had a huge backyard set that would be a bitch to dry out.
- Large Ham: Pretty much any time the kids do a play or a homemade movie.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Jan's invented boyfriend, George Glass. He is proven to exist in the The Brady Bunch Movie.
- Locked in a Freezer: Greg and Bobby in "Big Little Man".
- Lovely Assistant: Peter has magic as a Fleeting Passionate Hobby and does the Disappearing Girl trick with Jan as his lovely assistant, which freaks Cindy out. Even when they try to explain the trick to her she is still terrified. Then on the day of the Talent Show Jan twists her ankle and can't perform with Peter, so Cindy steps up and takes her place. Once she's been in the cabinet and sees how it's done she gets very enthusiastic, even wanting to do the trick again.
- Meganekko: Whether or not Jan became an example or an aversion of this trope once she started wearing glasses is possibly in the eye of the beholder.
- Missing Mom / Disappeared Dad: Which is how Mike and Carol are single in the show's Backstory.
- Despite the fact that the boys' birth mother and the girls' birth father are both deceased (the description of the pilot specifically notes that Mike and Carol were both widowed), no reference is ever made to the deceased parents, except in the pilot. Bobby offers to put away his framed picture of his real mother so he doesn't hurt Carol's feelings, but Mike tells him it's not necessary.
- For years, it had been claimed that Sherwood Schwartz had intended for Carol to be a divorcee (with her ex-husband and the girls' father apparently no longer having any involvement in their lives), but network executives with ABC were uncomfortable with the idea and requested a script change. Although the pilot supposedly stated that Carol was widowed, the fate of her first husband was never explicitly mentioned, leaving his absence ambiguous.
- In fact, in A Very Brady Sequel he seems to show up, after seemingly swept overboard in a boating mishap, although he's really an imposter, and the "first Mr.Brady"'s fate never is resolved.
- Never Trust a Hair Tonic: Bobby gets some mail-order hair tonic to sell, which turns Greg's hair orange.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: They had Cindy toting curly pigtails, wearing gingham dresses, and lisping cute phrases until she was older than Marcia was at the beginning of the show.
- Not Blood Siblings: Not just averted but rigorously, completely avoided. Naturally parodies are full of it...
- Reality Subtext: ...especially considering the UST between the actors playing Greg and Marcia behind the scenes on the original show.
- A Very Brady Sequel explores this...
- Nuclear Family: Of the blended variety.
- Although after the first few episodes the fact that they're step siblings becomes rarely mentioned, if at all, to the point where the opening credits become the only indicator that they're not related.
- Obfuscating Disability: One episode had a plot where a man claimed to have been grievously injured after only a minor car accident with Carol. Mike proved the man was lying by throwing his briefcase on the floor while the man's back was turned; after the sudden slamming noise, the man rapidly turned in fright, and the judge immediately ruled in favor of the Bradys.
- Oh, Cisco
- Out-of-Character Moment / Conflict Ball: Carol's strong objections to Greg playing football in "click". While Carol was shown to worry about her kids' well-being, she'd never had any complaints about any of the boys playing on sports teams prior to the episode. Possibly justified by the fact that high school football can be tougher than other sports, and the fact that Carol once dated a football player and may have had to deal with him constantly getting hurt.
- Panty Shot: Cindy in a couple of first season episodes; a cheerleader in "Her Sister's Shadow".
- Perplexing Plurals: The B-plot of the episode "The Personality Kid" concerns Bobby and Cindy going ape-shit over safety. The following concerns some electrical outlets in the kitchen, which have so many extensions & multi-prongs plugged in that one is referred to as an "octopus".
Bobby hands Carol a new plug.
- Poorly-Disguised Pilot: "Kelly's Kids", a Season 5 episode which featured Ken Berry as a friend of Mike and Carol's with three adopted sons of different races.
- The Prima Donna: Marcia, when playing Juliet in the school production of Romeo and Juliet, is such a diva that she actually gets kicked out of the show.
- Reunion Show: The made-for-TV movies The Brady Girls Get Married (1981) and A Very Brady Christmas (1988).
- Revival: The Brady Bunch Hour (1977), a Variety Show produced by Sid and Marty Krofft Productions; The Brady Brides (1981), a sitcom following Marcia and Jan in their post-marital lives; and The Bradys (1990), which rather drastically reworked the show's premise as a heavy drama.
- Making the variety show variant funnier is that it was reportedly the only version Robert Reed actually liked, probably because creator and frequent sparring partner Sherwood Schwartz had no part of that version whatsoever.
- Rewind, Replay, Repeat: Greg has become the photographer for the high school football team (after his injury makes him ineligible to play). During a crucial, contested touchdown he was taking pictures of his girlfriend, a cheerleader. But he manages to catch the foot of the player as he was making the catch in the end zone, so he and his father spend the day blowing the frame up and up and up until they can see whether his foot was inbounds or not. (It was.)
- Running Gag: Alice throwing her back out while doing tasks.
- The Seventies
- Shaped Like What It Sells: A client, Beebee Gallini, freaks Mike out when she asks him to design her makeup factory first in the shape of a powder puff, then a lipstick, and finally a compact, complete with hinged roof.
- Shoot the Money: Episodes took the Bradys on location to Grand Canyon and Hawaii.
- Shout-Out: In one of the movie adaptations that is a lighthearted parody of the show, it reveals who Mrs. Brady's first husband was: The Professor from Gilligan's Island.
- Sibling Rivalry: Frequently.
- Sleeping Single: Although not the first, one of the earliest complete aversions, as Mike and Carol were always depicted sleeping together.
- Stereo Fibbing
- The Stool Pigeon: The theme for this trope is in the season two episode "The Tattle-Tale".
- Sudden Humility: A bully is teasing Cindy for having a lisp, so Peter knocks his front teeth out. Now he has a lisp.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: "Time to Change", in the episode where Peter's voice... changes.
- Not really suspicious. They were going to sing We Can Make the World a Whole Lot Brighter and then Peter's voice changed during a rehearsal. And taking a vote whether or not to keep Peter or dump Peter (which came out a tie since Cindy voted twice), Greg wrote Time to Change from scratch to allow Peter to sing with them.
- This Is My Side
- Treehouse of Fun: The kids briefly had a treehouse, just long enough for Bobby to sprain his ankle climbing up, developing a fear of heights.
- Two-Timer Date
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Alice's cousin Emma in "Sergeant Emma" and Connie Hutchins and Judge Hank Brady, Carol's grandmother and Mike's grandfather in "You're Never Too Old".
- Unexpected Positive: Carol lets the doctor check her tonsils to show Cindy that it won't hurt. Turns out Carol and Cindy both need their tonsils out.
- Vacation Episode: Season 3 started with a three-episode trip to the Grand Canyon, while Season 4 had a similar arc in Hawaii. A Season 5 episode takes them to King's Island in Cincinnati.
- Very Special Episode: There was an Aesop in every episode to be sure, but the episodes involving Peter's one-week-long voice change and Greg's one-day-long smoking habit were both treated fairly seriously.
- Wangst: Eventually angst became middle daughter Jan's defining trait, as noted by Eve Plumb in the years since the end of the show.
- Wedlock Block: In one of the movies, the parents are reluctant to officially approve Jan's marriage plans because Marcia is single. Marcia explains this problem to a random male stranger she meets...resulting in a Fourth Date Double Marriage with Jan and her beau.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: A double example. The pilot introduced the boys' dog Tiger and the girls' cat Fluffy. Fluffy disappeared immediately afterwards, but Tiger stuck around for a few more episodes; it was later revealed that the canine performer who played Tiger was hit by a car and killed, and they elected not to replace him. They did, however, keep the doghouse in the Bradys' yard for the rest of the series.
- Because a stage light fell down and damaged the AstroTurf at that point in the yard and the producers had to cover it up.
- The family literally wonders what happened to the mouse in an episode about practical joking.
- Would Hurt a Child: Humorously played in "Bobby's Hero", where Bobby realizes — through a dream sequence where Jesse James shoots and kills his entire family, including his 11-year-old sister Cindy — that the famed outlaw he was trying to worship as a hero was nothing but a "mean, dirty killer."
- ↑ Plumb ended up painting many of the reproductions of paintings from the show used in HGTV's A Very Brady Remodel.