Sherwood Schwartz had trouble getting networks to understand his vision for The Brady Bunch. They wanted another Gilligan’s Island, but he was looking for a life raft to find more solid ground. He wanted to create something more realistic.
Schwartz told the Writers Guild Foundation in 1996 that he wrote the pilot script for the blended family sitcom rather than a simple synopsis because he wanted to get the networks to understand his vision. It didn’t work. They all wanted that wacky broad character comedy that he had made before.
“I wanted to show to be toned down in terms of laughter decibel,” he said. “I wanted more real people. The others were obviously exaggerated prototypes.”
All three major networks – NBC, ABC, and CBS — all wanted the show. But the executives all had changes they wanted him to make. At NBC, for example, Sherwood Schwartz said the bosses wanted him to change the pilot’s ending. In the script, Carol and Mike Brady decide that their honeymoon doesn’t feel right because their kids are at home with Alice. So, they drive home to pick up the rest of the family and bring them along. NBC thought this was absurd because no parent would drag their kids along on their honeymoon. Schwartz refused.
“I think that the audience will love people who loved their children that much,’ he said.
Other networks also had changes that Schwartz wouldn’t cotton to. He planned on giving up on the idea until ABC finally decided to pick up The Brady Bunch and listen to his vision. It’s one of the most successful shows of all time now.
Sherwood Schwartz Has Two Shows That Never Went Off the Air
The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island never left the air. Their networks canceled them early, but the shows found new life on syndication. Though, no one could have guessed the series would still be on more than 50 years later.
Sherwood Schwartz believes the shows have lasted this long because they’re familiar. No matter where you go, you can find an episode of either series playing at all hours of the day.
“The show has never been off the air,” Schwartz said of Gilligan’s Island. “The day it went off the air in primetime, they went into syndication. And now, I read an article, I’m always reading articles about my shows. I read an article that every half-hour you could see Gilligan’s Island in another city. Every half-hour in someplace in the United States.”
“In essence, people from different places have to come together and make it work. That’s what Gilligan was. In that case, [Schwartz] wanted to get people from very different strata of life and put them together in such a way that they couldn’t get away from each other and had to make it work. That’s the same thing with a family. Once you put a family together, you can’t get away. I think many people respond to that basic idea.”