For a show that only lasted five seasons, The Brady Bunch sure made an impact. That seems to be the legacy of creator Sherwood Schwartz. Gilligan’s Island, another of his creations, has enjoyed a similar fate. What is it about these shows, specifically The Brady Bunch, that has given them so much staying power?
Well, according to Eve Plumb, who played Jan Brady on the 1970s classic, it’s the familiarity. Viewers know exactly what they’re going to get when they flip on The Brady Bunch, and none of it’s going to be too hard to comprehend or stomach.
“It was a very nice, safe, fun show, knowing that nothing scary was going to happen and that problems would be solved in 20 minutes. It was familiar — like a chocolate chip cookie,” the Jan Brady actor told The New York Post in 2019.
There’s plenty to be said for an easy-to-watch TV show, especially these days. In a space where there are too many new titles to count, shows have to do whatever they can to separate themselves from the rest. It often leads to extreme premises and outlandish characters. Sometimes, all audiences want is something relatable and easy to consume—a chocolate chip cookie.
Funnily enough, it took years for critics and viewers alike to truly appreciate the familiarity within The Brady Bunch. Per NPR, every season the show was air, it never even broke the Nielsen top 20.
‘The Brady Bunch’ Orginated From a Single Statistic in the Newspaper
If you ask a writer how they came up with an idea for something, chances are they’re going to struggle coming up with a definitive answer. However, on certain occasions, the source of inspiration is so simple and clear that you can narrow it down to a single moment.
Such was the case for The Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz. He broke down the entire process of how the show came to be in a 1998 essay titled “How It All Began.” Hard as it is to believe with the mark it has made on American entertainment, the idea for The Brady Bunch came to Schwartz as he read the newspaper.
“It was just a four-line filler piece in the Los Angeles Times. Just a statistic. It said that year, 1965, 31 percent of all marriages involved people who had a child or children from a previous marriage. It was just a statistic, but to me it indicated a remarkable sociological change in our country. Thirty-one percent is approximately one-third of all marriages. That’s a huge statistic,” Schwartz wrote.
Of course, the idea went through years of development before the public met The Brady Bunch. But Schwartz knew that the potential for countless, original stories was hiding in a marriage that forced two families together.