Film & Television

All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from the Bradys

Lesson #2: You Can’t Change a Man

Alice loved Sam. And, arguably, Sam loved Alice. But, when the housekeeper tried to get her butcher to go to a Brady school performance instead of his bowling league … well, let’s just say it was “love’s labor lost.”

Some women think they can fall in love with one part of a man and then, over time, change whatever falls short. Take a lesson from Alice, ladies. If he’s a slob when you’re dating, he’ll be a slob when you’re married. If he drinks too much while you’re getting to know him, he’ll continue to do so when your relationship is old-hat. Once a workaholic, always a workaholic. You get the idea.

However, if you are truly smitten, you can always try to embrace his interests. Alice, after all, went on a very romantic bowling date in episode 12 of the final season.

Lesson #3: There’s Sex After Marriage

The Brady Bunch broke new ground when it put the parents in the same bed. If you remember, Lucy and Ricky slept in matching twins, like school roommates, with a chaste gap of a few feet between them.

Not only was The Brady Bunch one of the first to show a husband and wife sleeping together, but many episodes ended with Mike reaching for his lovely bride in a manner that suggested that sleeping wasn’t the only thing going on.

Apparently, those little peignoir sets Carol was always wearing paid off.

Lesson #4: To Thine Own Self Be True

Forget Shakespeare’s Polonius! To see the wisdom of this life lesson, look no further than Jan and Peter. In “Will the Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?” Jan, forever lost in the shadows between teen dream Marcia and baby girl Cindy, tries to make her mark. She dons a rather ridiculous curly black wig. With the help of some sympathetic friends, however, she realizes that natural blondes really do have more fun.

Peter, meanwhile, tries to create his own unique identity when he fears he has “no personality.” His attempts include telling jokes and impersonating Humphrey Bogart. That episode, “The Personality Kid,” gave us one of the series’ most famous and incessantly repeated lines, “Pork chops and apple sauce, ain’t that swell?”

The moral from the middle children? Be yourself. Or, as Mike and Carol would say, “Figure out what you do best, then do your best at it.”

Lesson #5: Nothing Beats a Family Vacation!

This is one message that I always enjoyed reinforcing with my own daughter, and there were several Brady episodes that helped me underscore the point. Yes, weekends with her gang were fun and horseback-riding camp was absolutely an essential part of her summer. But nothing could beat a family vacation.

Where else could you be locked up in a ghost-town jail by a delusional gold miner? Or, discover a taboo tiki that needs to be returned to an ancient Hawaiian burial ground? Or, meet a genuine Indian? (Remember, this was the early seventies; we didn’t use the term ‘Native American’ yet, and the episode, I regret to report, was called “The Brady Braves.”)

The point is, the Bradys taught us that family comes first. Perhaps this is why so many parents, as well as kids, still love the show. From the Grand Canyon to Honolulu to Westdale High to a $3.5-million split-level ranch (that only had one bathroom for six children), it was always the Bradys against the world.

And, the Bradys generally came out on top.


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