The Brady Bunch: A Perfect Family in an Era of Soaring Divorce Rates
When it debuted in 1969, The Brady Bunch was seen as something of an anachronism: a series that celebrated traditional family values at a time when these seemed to be eroding in America as the country was seeing a surge in divorce and remarriage rates. The series revolved around a blended family created when Mike Brady (Robert Reed), a widower with three sons, married Carol (Florence Henderson), a widow with three daughters. The series focused on the typical childhood and adolescent problems encountered by the children, such as first crushes, dating and sibling rivalry, while avoiding explicitly dealing with the political and social issues of the day such as racial equality and women’s liberation. The show was canceled in 1974, after five seasons of middling success but became very popular in reruns when it was syndicated, as it found a new audience of children who had not been able to see the original airings.
The cast of The Brady Bunch have reportedly remained close friends after the series ended, and have even remained in close touch with each other. This was highlighted in Christopher Knight’s (middle son Peter) reality series My Fair Brady, when Knight invited some of his former co-stars, such as Barry Williams and Susan Olsen, to his wedding party, and spent most of the time hanging out with them.
The success of the series in reruns also ensured that the Brady characters would remain popular, and there were several follow-up series and specials featuring original members of the cast of the Brady Bunch. The series also inspired a pair of big-screen movies featuring the original characters now played by new actors, and a second sequel that was made for TV. While The Brady Bunch was underappreciated by the critics during its initial run, it remains popular among a whole generation of fans who grew up children of divorce and envied the Brady’s perfect nuclear family.