1960s |

The Brady Bunch Premieres – 9/26/1969

On September 26th of 1969 was the premiere of the immortal TV show everyone loves to hate.

Here's the story...

Of a lovely lady, Carol Brady, a widowed mother (because people didn't get divorced on TV in those days), who was raising three charming blond haired little girls. She met Mike Brady, a widowed father, who had three dark haired sons. This group somehow formed the perfect family (as long as Alice the housekeeper was around to clean up), and that's the way they all became the Brady Bunch.

That's also the way The Brady Bunch became an icon of American pop culture.

The show was unanimously panned by critics, then and now, despite the many reruns, spinoffs, movies, and Brady Bunch souvenirs they keep churning out.

Even back then, kids felt they needed some sort of excuse for watching a silly, sickeningly sweet show like The Brady Bunch. Fortunately, they had an excuse. Back then, there was just so little else to do, and not much else to watch around the time when kids came home from school. On TV, they pretty much had a choice between daytime talk shows, soap operas, and the Brady Bunch. Sometimes the boredom was relieved with an occasional after school special. At the time, there was no such thing as a personal computer or the internet.

So we started watching the Brady Bunch, if for no other reason, just to sit there making fun of it. There was never a time when anyone in America took these people too seriously. During the show's entire run, from 1969 until 1974, it never reached the top ten in the Nielsen ratings. The Brady Bunch covered such serious topics as getting braces, puberty, and sibling rivalry, while avoiding controversial issues that ran so rampant during that time.

One of the last of the old style sitcoms, The Brady Bunch presented a wholesome view of American family life, with all family members behaving perfectly. The implication seemed to be that there was some way to achieve that. When a parent called the children, they all came running immediately, then stood at attention in a perfectly straight line, boy girl boy girl, in size order no less!

Still, most of us secretly wished we had families like that, and the chosen time slot for the show was a brilliant move, enticing bored suburban kids from all over America, who would rather watch TV than do their homework.

The old style sitcom would eventually give way to bolder shows like Roseanne. Roseanne was the first TV show that had the kids talking back to, and generally disobeying, their parents. What a welcome relief! That's exactly what real kids do.

The ABC network cancelled the Brady Bunch after 177 episodes. The last original episode aired on August 30th of 1974. However, the show was soon in syndication, and back on TV again, because we miss that nonexistent perfect family that we used to believe existed. Someday, our children would watch The Brady Bunch. 

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Mark Hinderberg

Writer

Retired History Professor at Vanderbilt University. Love taking a portal through time and sharing my knowledge with anyone else who loves reading about history. It is my passion and my greatest hobby.