I feel something quite sad about the passing of a childhood icon, actress Ann B Davis. Besides playing Schultzy on the Bob Cummings Show in the 60s, for many of us Post-Baby Boom TV kids, Ann B will always be a much-loved character on a 70s sitcom. Ann B will always be Alice Nelson, the housekeeper on The Brady Bunch.
I readily admit Alice had a huge impact on my life. Alice is responsible for my bizarre love of housekeeping, my affection for wearing aprons, my preference for wearing little white canvas Keds, and my fascination for stories about middle-aged love.
Yes, The Brady Bunch was a sitcom, yes it was unrealistic because what family of nine in a house that size had one bathroom for six kids? But the realism expressed in The Brady Bunch hinges on the portrayal of the adults and their relationships. What I learned from the Brady Bunch, despite it’s idealised-sunshiny-everything-is-rosy-sit-com-prefect-blended-family, was that grown ups got divorced, grown ups got remarried, grown ups who were older than my parents STILL WENT ON DATES, and STILL LOOKED FOR LOVE. Okay, Sam the Butcher wasn’t exactly what you’d call hawtt stuff, the fact was he was middle-aged Alice’s boyfriend, and what this showed me was that middle-aged women had middle aged boyfriends. Divorced gown-ups and middle aged grownups looked for love. That was the message I took away from Alice and The Brady Bunch. That was the message I accepted as reality.
And guess what? This IS REALITY. Grown-ups, Middle-aged grown-ups and grown-ups who are older than my parents STILL GO ON DATES, and STILL LOOK FOR LOVE. Middle-aged women have middle aged boyfriends. There are some films and TV shows that buck the love-is-for-the-young trend (Enough Said, Last Chance Harvey), but why do you think we don’t we see more of this reality portrayed on TV or in movies or in books–in romance fiction?
Does it have something to do with more people wearing Converse and Vans than Keds?
Oh, and one more thing. Alice is also the reason the pre-renovated kitchen in my grown up romance novel, A Basic Renovation, resembles the orange and brown Brady Bunch kitchen, where Alice spent so much time.
5 thoughts on “Alice Wore Keds: What the Brady Bunch Taught Me”
I think there were a few lessons we learnt along the way with TBB. It’s so easy to criticise than to actually pull out the life learning moments. I loved the old shows, they all have something important to teach about values even if the setup seemed unrealistic.
I’m still trying to figure out if there was something valuable I learnt from I Dream of Jeannie –besides blondes were good girls and brunettes were bad girls, which showed me brunettes were more interesting. That is, until Little House On the Prairie screwed it all up with bad blonde girl Nellie Olsen.
Love this post. I’ll never watch TBB the same way again. 🙂
Great post, Sandra. I hadn’t analysed the whys and wherefores but you’re right about TBB and what we can take away from it.
Thanks, Susanne! Criticism often focused on the family and how unrealistic the situation was. Some people are amazed when I tell them I learnt stuff from the Brady Bunch and Partridge Family–I have to thank The Partridge Family’s Danny Bonaduce for showing me how to be a smartass.