It’s the story of a clan named Brady
Who first stormed our TVs in ’69
HGTV put them in a reno series
And now “The Brady Bunch” is top of mind …
Admit it, you were singing those sentences in your head to the tune of the “Brady Bunch” theme song.
The sitcom about a mom, dad and their blended family of six kids ran between 1969 and 1974 and cemented its place in pop culture with its wholesome suburban corniness. So kudos to the geniuses at HGTV who decided to buy the North Hollywood house whose exterior filled in for the Brady home, then team the surviving Brady actors with their own network stars to tear apart and rebuild it.
The resulting four-episode series, “A Very Brady Renovation,” became a gift that keeps on giving for HGTV. It brought record ratings for the channel, so much so it has now added a Christmas special: “A Very Brady Renovation: Holiday Edition.”
The network even announced last week that Maureen McCormick, a.k.a. Marcia Brady, will co-host its annual “White House Christmas” special. (I know, right? Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!)
So have we jumped the nostalgia shark by going gaga for a callback to a series that in all honesty was pretty mediocre?
Maybe, but I’d also argue that HGTV hit a nostalgia sweet spot.
“A Very Brady Renovation” reminded those of us who grew up with the show of a cherished touchstone of our childhoods (I was almost eight when it debuted).
But you don’t have to be a baby boomer to be a “Brady Bunch” fan. Bear in mind that the show never really went away. Original episodes have aired in syndication since 1975; there were five TV movies or spinoff series, plus two movie satires in the mid-’90s; the show got its own Wiki in 2009, a Facebook page in 2011 and has inspired countless memes.
For this fan, there was something delightful about seeing the six Brady “kids” reunited: Barry Williams (Greg), 65; McCormick, 63; Christopher Knight (Peter) and Eve Plumb (Jan), 61; Mike Lookinland (Bobby) and Susan Olsen (Cindy), both 58.
It felt like a real family reunion, right down to the poignant recollections of their departed TV parents (Robert Reed and Florence Henderson) and live-in maid (Ann B. Davis).
Ironically, they were there to rebuild something that never existed since the Brady “house” was just a collection of sets on a Hollywood sound stage. Even the exterior of the home that HGTV bought for a whopping $ 3.5 million (U.S.) had been altered for its TV close-up. And to turn it into the Brady house, HGTV’s experts had to gut it, add 2,000 square feet of space and lower the foundation so a second storey could be built without compromising the street view.
I have read the critiques of the lavish attention paid by HGTV to recreating the TV fantasy, right down to sourcing the ugliest of the original props (clown paintings, anyone?).
And there’s no denying “The Brady Bunch” was a rather silly show, pitching an unrealistic view of a blended family at a time when America was being ripped apart by racial and political unrest fuelled by the Vietnam War.
But I confess I had all the feels when the actors walked through the front double doors in the first episode of “A Very Brady Renovation” and gazed in wonder at the duplicated living room with its iconic staircase.
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Nostalgia, like all human emotion, is a moving target.
We will no doubt tire of the Bradys. The actors will go back to doing whatever they were doing before “A Very Brady Renovation” thrust them back into the spotlight.
But the Brady house, in all its kitschy glory, is now a real thing and I find that a cheerful thought.
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