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?
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.