Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Very Brady Blog

Tonight I was watching VH1's special on the top 100 Kid stars, hosted by none other then Christopher Knight, of Peter Brady fame, who was also just on season 4 of The Surreal Life.

A lot of happy favorites were showcased on the show, including all of the Brady kids, even the annoying cousin.

So, I thought about what the Brady Bunch represented. Being a Step-Father, I appreciated the blending that family did. The parents maintained equality regardless of who was who's biological child. Trying to balance the "my kids vs your kids" life can be trying, and is often one of the hardest things blended families do. They even debunked some myths of evil step mothers and the like. The show despite its cloying sweetness was really unique.

The parents slept together, made mistakes and corrected them and genuinely loved their children.

The kids had normal problems and generally showed a somewhat more normal suburban life then many other shows. The did stupid things. They got upset over trivial things. They were competitive and still defended each other.

It was completely devoid of politics, and social issues dealing only with a perfect suburbian vision of family issues, even if it was in a unrealistic and comedic way. Unrequited love, growing pains, jealousy and depression, all had their day there, but no Vietnam, no Watergate and certainly no drugs.

Now I grant that during its 5 year run, the show, which premiered in 1969, had some of the tackiest clothes and smarmiest plots around, but despite that it remains a syndication favorite. Translated to numerous foreign languages, and still shown daily today, it spawned music records, a TV variety show, a TV movie, a 35th anniversary reunion special, a cartoon series, 3 spoof movies, and more.

In a way, a lot of us grew up with them. They were hopelessly "square" and out of touch, but we loved them.

But then I thought about the 1995 movie they made. One of the plot factors was to keep the Brady family socially and mentally in the 70's while living in the 90's. Talk about being out of touch and wired.

But think about what would have had to happen to make the Brady family meet the 2000's. In order to sell that story today, the normal family would have to go away, as would the wise father, the submissive mother and the obedient children. The format would also have to be more serialized and multi-pathed.

Here is what I feel the plot would become:

Mike Brady- Dad is a stressed out Vietnam veteran, who occasionally suffers flashbacks. His career as a truck driver leaves him isolated and out of touch with his family. He is addicted to internet porn, and is secretly concealing his use of truck stop prostitutes. When he is home, he is hopelessly inept at solving problems. As Season one ends he finds out he has herpes.

Carol Brady- Mom is a breast cancer survivor, who left her first husband after years of physical abuse, and is chronically depressed and addicted to valium. Only the intervention of Alice gets her to counseling and rehab. By the end of season one, she is transformed to a confident woman who is planning to resurrect her college dreams of being a doctor. The season ends with her taking back her maiden name (Carol Tyler Brady) and registering at college.

Alice- Alice the housekeeper is now a lesbian, who has a steady lover named Samantha. The season ends with them launching a lawsuit to marry.

Greg- Greg is intelligent, good looking and successful, but secretly Greg is confused about his sexual identity, and finally comes out of the closet. The end of Season one has him revealing his identity to his football coach, a conservative Christian. The coach suspends him forcing Greg to contact the ACLU to file a discrimination suit.

Marcia- Marcia is a debutante; shallow and superficial, stuck up and self absorbed. She dates only rich boys, but makes a mistake in judgment and goes to party where she is date raped. The attacker is not prosecuted, being the son of a local politician. Discovering she is pregnant, the season ends with her driving to an abortion clinic with Alice.

Peter- Peter is the social rebel, goth, dark clothing, multiple face piercings and a tattoo of Ozzy Osborne. He fronts a garage band called Death by Cuisenart. He has dropped out of school, and run away 4 times. Discovering his crack addiction, Mike and Carol are planning on sending him to Brat Camp.

Jan- Jan is still jealous of Marcia but now it translates to an obsession with her looks and anorexia. Her dramatic weight loss is a cause for concern, but the family is in denial over the seriousness of her condition. The season ends with her overdosing on Cortislim.

Bobby- The youngest Brady boy is ADHD, and suffers behavioral problems. He is constantly attacked by the bullies at school. At season end, the school psychologist is calling the police, telling them of notes found that indicate Bobby is contemplating a Columbine attack.

Cindy- Cindy is a liberal activist. A total vegan, she refuses to dine with the family, citing her refusal to participate in murder at the dinner table. She is arrested in season one for bombing a meat packing plant, killing two guards and a janitor. The jury returns its verdict at the close of Season 1, for the cliffhanger.

Oh, and they would have to be multiracial.

Is this over the top? Sure I suppose so, but then again I look at how shows are written now, how families are presented and what kind of characters are there, and some of what I made up would likely need to be presented. The traditional family roles would be reversed, the children would have to be dysfunctional.

The Brady's represent more then a link to an era gone by, they are also a link to a television culture slowly slipping away: The culture of family.