The Brady Bunch: A Classic TV Series That Defined a Generation

The Brady Bunch is an American television series that aired from 1969 to 1974. The show is considered a classic and has remained popular for decades, with reruns still being broadcasted today. A family sitcom, the show revolves around the lives of the Brady family, a blended family consisting of six children, three girls and three boys, and their parents. This one is a favorite here at Television Hits, and we all have warm childhood memories of our time spent with the Brady family!

The show’s premise was revolutionary for its time, as it depicted a blended family in a positive light. The Brady Bunch was a departure from the traditional family sitcoms of the era, which typically featured nuclear families, à la Leave it to Beaver. The show tackled issues like sibling rivalry, teenage romance (and heartbreak), and parental guidance in a lighthearted and humorous way.

The Brady Bunch has become a cultural mainstay, with its catchy theme song, memorable characters, and iconic fashion. The show has inspired spin-offs, movies, and even a stage musical. Despite its initial mixed reviews, The Brady Bunch has stood the test of time and remains a beloved classic that continues to entertain audiences of all ages.

The Brady Bunch: The Background

The Brady children standing together in a screen capture from the show The Brady Bunch.

The Brady Bunch is an American television sitcom that aired from September 26, 1969, to March 8, 1974. The show was created by Sherwood Schwartz and produced by Redwood Productions in association with Paramount Television. The series revolves around a large blended family with six children, three from each parent’s previous marriage, and their housekeeper, who also lives in the home.

Creation of the Brady Bunch

The idea for the show was inspired by Schwartz’s own blended family, as he had stepchildren from his wife’s previous marriage. The show was originally pitched to CBS as Yours and Mine, but the network passed on the idea. Schwartz then reworked the concept and pitched it again, this time with the title The Brady Bunch.

Plot and Characters

The Brady Bunch follows the lives of the Brady family, which consists of parents Mike and Carol Brady, their six children (Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby, and Cindy), and their housekeeper Alice. The show is known for its wholesome, family-friendly content and its catchy theme song. 

The show’s plot revolves around the family’s daily life, as they navigate various issues and conflicts. The children often get into mischief, but their problems are typically resolved by the end of each episode. The show also tackles more serious issues, such as puberty, peer pressure, and divorce.

The characters are each unique and have their own distinct personalities. Greg is the oldest and usually takes on a leadership role among the siblings, while Marcia is the popular and confident oldest daughter. Peter is the middle child and often feels overshadowed by his siblings, while Jan, the middle daughter, struggles with feeling left out. Bobby is the mischievous youngest boy, and Cindy is the adorable youngest girl with blonde curls so well-known they feature in the theme song.

The Impact and Legacy of the Brady Bunch

Popularity and Cultural Significance

The show’s theme song, “The Brady Bunch Theme,” is still recognizable today, and catchphrases from the show, such as “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,” have become part of the lexicon. The show has been referenced and parodied in countless films, television shows, and commercials.

Spin-offs, Adaptations, and Reunions

Meme of "Sure, Jan" from a Very Brady Sequel.

The success of The Brady Bunch spawned several spin-offs and adaptations. The first spin-off was The Brady Kids, an animated series that aired from 1972 to 1973. The show followed the adventures of the Brady children and their pets.

In 1981, a made-for-television movie titled The Brady Girls Get Married aired, which reunited the original cast. This led to a short-lived spin-off series called The Brady Brides, which aired from 1981 to 1982.

In 1990, a new series called The Bradys aired, which followed the adult Brady children and their families. The show was not as successful as its predecessor and was canceled after one season.

The Brady Bunch Movie, a parody of the original series, was released in 1995. It was followed by A Very Brady Sequel, which included the iconic “Sure, Jan”, a sarcastic comment and a sideways glance from Marcia that became a huge meme in 2015. The sequel received a theater release in 1996 and was followed by The Brady Bunch in the White House, a 2002 film that was released as a filmed-for-television piece. 

In 2019, the surviving cast members reunited for A Very Brady Renovation, a home renovation show that transformed the original Brady Bunch house into an exact replica of the set used for the show.

Legacy and Influence on Television and Beyond

The Brady Bunch has had a significant influence on television. It was one of the first shows to portray a blended family, which was considered groundbreaking at the time. The show paved the way for other family-centered sitcoms, such as Full House and Modern Family.

The Brady Bunch also introduced several new television tropes, such as the “very special episode” and the use of split-screen to show multiple characters in different locations. These techniques have since become commonplace in television.

The show’s popularity led to a variety of merchandise, including lunch boxes, board games, and even a line of dolls. 


Casting and Filming

The Brady Bunch was created by Sherwood Schwartz and produced by Redwood Productions in association with Paramount Television. The show originally aired from 1969 to 1974 and consisted of five seasons and 117 episodes.

The casting process was extensive, with more than 464 children auditioning for the six Brady children roles. The producers were looking for children who could act, sing, and dance, as the show often featured musical numbers. They also wanted to find children who had chemistry with each other and could convincingly portray a blended family.

After months of auditions and callbacks, the final six children were chosen; the rest is history.

The final cast included Robert Reed as Mike Brady, Florence Henderson as Carol Brady, Ann B. Davis as Alice Nelson, and the six Brady children: Barry Williams as Greg, Maureen McCormick as Marcia, Christopher Knight as Peter, Eve Plumb as Jan, Mike Lookinland as Bobby, and Susan Olsen as Cindy.

The show was filmed in Los Angeles, California, and the Brady house was a real house located at 11222 Dilling Street in Studio City. The interior of the house was built on a soundstage, and the exterior shots of the house were used in the opening credits of the show.

Music and the Brady Bunch Theme Song

Schwartz wrote the iconic theme song for The Brady Bunch, which was performed by the Peppermint Trolley Company. The song, which features the memorable lyrics “Here’s the story of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls,” became a cultural phenomenon and is still recognizable today.

The show also featured music throughout, with the Brady family often performing songs together. In season four, the Brady kids formed a band called The Brady Six and performed in several episodes.

Set Design

The Brady children on the staircase on the set of Brady Bunch television show.

The set design for The Brady Bunch was created by art director George Van Marter and set decorator Hal Overell. The Brady house was designed to be a typical suburban home of the time, with a living room, kitchen, dining room, and bedrooms for each of the children.

The set design of The Brady Bunch was unique for its time. The house was designed to have two stories, which was not common for sitcoms in the 1970s. The interior of the house was designed to be colorful and vibrant, with a mix of modern and traditional styles.

The set designers were careful to ensure accuracy and consistency. For example, the house’s staircase was designed to be functional, so the actors could actually climb up and down it. The designers also paid attention to small details, like making sure that the pictures on the walls were appropriate for the time period.

Costumes and Makeup

The costumes for the show were designed by costume designer Frank DeCaro, and meticulously created to fit the time period. The clothing was colorful and often featured bold patterns, which was popular in the 1970s. The makeup was natural-looking and minimal, which was also in line with the trends of the time. The Brady kids were known for their colorful and coordinated outfits, often wearing matching shirts or dresses. The costume design helped to create the iconic look of the Brady family and has become a recognizable part of the show’s legacy.

The actors’ hairstyles were also carefully designed to fit their characters. For example, Marcia Brady’s hair was styled in a popular “flip” style, while Jan Brady’s hair was styled in a more conservative “pageboy” style. Cindy’s ever-iconic curls showcase the innocence of the youngest Brady family member.

Best Episodes of The Brady Bunch

A screen capture of some of the Brady Bunch characters on the beach together.

Throughout the five seasons of the show, there were a number of standout episodes that have remained popular with fans. From heartwarming moments to hilarious hijinks, The Brady Bunch had it all. 

‘Marcia, Marcia, Marcia’

In this episode, Marcia becomes obsessed with being chosen as the head cheerleader for her school’s football team. Her obsession leads her to neglect her other responsibilities, causing her to receive a failing grade on a test. This episode is memorable for its iconic line, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” which has become a cultural catchphrase.

‘The Hair-Brained Scheme’

In this episode, Greg and Bobby come up with a hair-brained scheme to earn money by selling hair tonic. Their plan goes awry when they accidentally use glue instead of hair tonic, causing their customers’ hair to become stuck together. This episode is a classic example of the Brady kids’ misadventures and their ability to learn from their mistakes.

‘Adios, Johnny Bravo’

In this episode, Marcia falls for a handsome exchange student named Johnny Bravo. However, she soon discovers that he is only interested in her because he wants to win a bet with his friends. This episode deals with themes of heartbreak and the importance of being true to oneself.

‘The Tiki Caves’

In this episode, the Brady family goes on a vacation to Hawaii. While exploring some tiki caves, they accidentally get locked inside. This episode is memorable for its suspenseful plot and the Brady kids’ resourcefulness in finding a way out.

‘The Cincinnati Kids’

In this episode, the Brady kids enter a talent contest with their own band, but they quickly realize they’re out of their league when they see the competition – a group of professional child musicians called The Cincinnati Kids. While the Bradys don’t win the contest, they learn an important lesson about the value of hard work and perseverance.

‘The Subject Was Noses’

In this episode, Marcia breaks her nose right before a big date with her crush, Doug. She tries to hide her injury with a fake nose, but chaos ensues when the nose falls off during the date. This episode is a classic example of The Brady Bunch’s signature blend of humor and heart.

‘The Honeymoon’

In this two-part episode, Mike and Carol go on their honeymoon, leaving the kids in the care of Alice. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned, and the kids end up causing all sorts of mischief. Meanwhile, Mike and Carol have their own share of misadventures on their honeymoon. This episode is a fun and lighthearted romp that showcases the whole Brady family.


Reception and criticism

The Brady Bunch was a popular show during its time, but it was not without its critics. Some viewers found the show too unrealistic and criticized its portrayal of a perfect, happy family, saying it did not represent the struggles and challenges of real families.

Despite these criticisms, the show remained popular and continues to have a devoted fan base today.

Social and political issues

The Brady Bunch was produced during a time of significant social and political change in the United States. Some viewers criticized the show for its lack of diversity, as the main cast was made up entirely of white actors. Others felt that the show did not accurately reflect the social and political issues of the time.

While the show may not have been perfect in its representation of social and political issues, it did address some important topics, such as gender roles and family values.