7 Bizarre Lessons from The Brady Bunch

Don’t you baby boomers miss the old-fashioned cheesy family shows of yesteryear? I do! If I had to name my favorite show as a kid it would be a tie between Gilligan’s Island and the Brady Bunch – although the latter probably wins in the end. Oh, how I loved that cheerful show about a perfect, if not chaotic, blended family with six kids and an awesome housekeeper named Alice.

I loved all the Bradys, but Jan was my favorite. I would argue she was just as pretty as Marcia, without her sister’s ginormous ego and obsession about her looks. Remember all the drama when Marcia got braces or when she was hit in the face with a football and her perfect little nose, she seemed obsessive about, swelled up like a balloon? Plus, I could totally relate to Jan’s teenage insecurities and her petty jealousy over everything Marcia.

And didn’t you love all those unforgettable quotes like: “I’m not a snitcher; I just tell it like it is,” says Cindy. Sounds perfectly logical to me.

And that saucy Carol. She asks Mike what he’s going to wear to a dude ranch. When he answers cowboy boots, Carol says with her best John Wayne impression: “Well, ya better wear something else, or you’re gonna get arrested.” Now that I think about it, there was quite a bit of flirting and canoodling going on between Mike and Carol.  Remember, they were one of the first couples to share a bed on TV. Hmmm…maybe that’s what the theme song means when it says “when the lady met this fellow, they knew it was much more than a hunch.”

Admittedly, some of the advice on the show was questionable. “You shouldn’t put down a loser, Cindy, because you might be one yourself someday. Just remember that,” Carol says. Way to be supportive, Carol! Or take the sage, wise observation Mike makes in the Brady Bunch Movie: “Alone, we can only move buckets. But if we work together, we can drain rivers.” Profound.

Still, there is much to be learned from this classic show. For example, a Jack and Jill bathroom should not be shared by six kids – and it didn’t even seem to have a toilet! Aside from that, here are seven things I learned from this classic show:

If a Bully Teases Your Sister About Her Lisp, Sock Him Hard So He Lisps Too

When an older boy named Buddy teases Cindy about sounding like a baby because she lisps, Peter comes to her rescue only to get a black eye for his heroic efforts. Mike shows his son how to fight and Peter punches Buddy in the mouth. A tooth is knocked loose, and in the spirit of true justice, Buddy now has a lisp too! Seems only fair, but today there’d be a law suit for sure.

Don’t Wig Out

Poor Jan. Always feeling inadequate, especially when compared to “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” In one show, Jan, tired of being invisible as a middle child, is ready to make her mark in the world. She decides a dramatic makeover is just the ticket. Unfortunately, she decides to do so with a horrific short, black, curly wig. Obviously, she didn’t appreciate her “hair of gold” like her mother. Of course, her classmates tease her. I mean, how could they not? The wig looks like a glued-on piece of dark shag carpeting. Because it was the 70s in a kinder, gentler world, her school friends apologize and explain they were only laughing because her natural blonde hair is beautiful – and so is she. But not before Jan learns to love herself. Aw, a lesson we all should learn.

Get Your Dog Fixed or He May Hook Up with the Hoochie Doggy Mama Next Door

Tiger the dog goes missing and the family is besides themselves – which is kind of odd, because we haven’t seen the dog in a long time. Plus, you would think that a responsible family like the Bradys would have had Tiger neutered, but noooo,  they didn’t. Of course, the inevitable happens. When they finally find Tiger, it’s too late. He’s been shacking up with the dog next door and is a Daddy now. While we’re on the subject of the Brady’s irresponsibility toward pets, a lot of their animals strangely disappear after just one episode. Fluffy, the girls’ cat, is never seen or mentioned again after the first episode. Maybe the family blamed it for ruining the wedding, which was totally Tiger’s fault, by the way. When Bobby sprains his ankle, Mike gives him a parakeet to keep him company, but the bird seems to vanish after that. Greg talks about his white pet rabbit once, but it never actually makes an appearance. Goldfish are won at a carnival and mysteriously disappear. Bobby briefly has a turtle named Herman as well as a bunch of frogs. You guessed it. They never show up again. Even Tiger disappears for good half way through the second season – never to be mentioned again. Although, now that I think about it, the dog house remains in the back yard which makes us think he is alive – but where is he? Are the Bradys secret serial animal killers? Is their quaint backyard really a pet cemetery? Say it ain’t so!

Cute Guys Have No Appreciation for Big, Fat Noses 

Remember when Marcia breaks a date with dull and dweeby Charley to go out with hunky and handsome Doug Simpson? I learned not to try this at home, because if you dump the nice guy for the popular guy you just may get hit in the face with a football. Then you might be dumped like Marcia, because apparently superficial Simpson can’t stand the sight of a swollen schnozzle. Harsh lesson! “Oh, my nose,” Marcia cries after the football smacks her face. Afterwards, noble Charley still wants to take Marcia out because he doesn’t care how she looks. I learned to treat others as you want to be treated, to be forgiving, and looks don’t matter since it’s the person inside that counts (yeah, right, although Marcia agrees to go out with Charley, we never see that sweet boy again – maybe it’s true that nice guys never win in the end).

Pork Chops and Applesauce Really Do Go Great Together

Jan wasn’t the only one with confidence issues. Peter comes home depressed after only one person talks to him at a party and tells him he’s boring with no personality. Truthfully, out of all the Brady kids, Peter does seem a bit dull. In fact, after Greg shares there are “lots of guys duller” than Peter, he is challenged to name one and can’t do it. Then Mike and Carol, apparently tired of Peter’s pouting, tell him to stop feeling sorry for himself  and change his personality if he isn’t happy with it. A bit brutal for the Brady Bunch, but okay. Anyhow, Peter apparently doesn’t have a creative bone in his body, so he decides to copy characters he sees in old movies. That’s when Peter famously repeats the family’s dinner menu, “pork chops and applesauce,” in a Humphrey Bogart impersonation. Who knew such a simple thing could become a catch phrase still famous decades later? And that these two foods totally compliment each other?

Beware of Tiki Idols

When I was a young, someone mailed me a weird wooden idol. I promptly buried it in a walnut grove behind the house. It was sorta creepy, but I was also influenced by the strange three-part adventure when Bobby takes a cursed tiki idol from a Hawaiian construction site and all sorts of bad luck ensues. Greg wipes out on his surf board, Alice throws her back out ( or was it her hip?), Peter has a nasty run-in with a tarantula, and Bobby is almost hit with a framed picture that suddenly propels off a wall. If all that isn’t enough, the boys are taken hostage by a crazy archaeologist who has a strange resemblance to Vincent Price. Oh yeah, the paranoid professor really was Vincent Price! “You naughty, naughty boys,” he chastises them. After Greg apologizes, Bobby explains, “Yeah, we just lost our heads.” A terrified Peter says, “Shh, don’t give him any ideas.” Classic! Turns out the archaeologist is guilty of hiding treasures and ends up apologizing. They work out a strange deal, I still don’t quite understand, and the Brady family is honored for helping to find a treasure. As usual, all is solved in no time at all! I think the lesson was not to take anything that doesn’t belong to you, but what I learned is to stay away from strange looking tiki idols.

Dream Big

Dreams really do come true, according to the Brady Bunch. When Marcia lies about Davy Jones appearing at a school dance, guess who shows up? You got it. Marcia even gets a kiss from the cutey pie Monkees star. When Bobby brags about knowing football legend Joe Namath, he magically appears just to say hello. When Peter was teased by his football teammates for singing in the glee club, famous football player, Deacon Jones, comes to his rescue at practice to reprimand those bad boys. I tried closing my eyes and wishing Bobby Sherman would appear but, alas, nothing happened. But hey, I learned it doesn’t hurt to dream and believe in the impossible. You just never know.




Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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4 Responses

  1. Oh, Julie! This is the best! I can’t wait to share this with all my friends.
    The whole time I’m reading this, “Marcia, Marcia Marcia,” popped in my head and so did “pork chops and applesauce.” You hit on all the great episodes here, and more.
    Yes, Jan was a smart girl and I liked she was spunky, even though she stood in the shadows of her sister.
    Cindy was adorable.
    Goodness, I liked them all. Alice was great and so funny!

    So fun!
    Thanks, Julie!

  2. This was a fantastic post Julie. a great quirky light-hearted laugh. It brought back so many memories of watching re-run after re-run. Loved growing up with the Brady’s, although I had never thought about life lessons from this fun bunch.

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