‘The Brady Bunch’: Florence Henderson Listed Proof of Why the Bradys Weren’t Just an ‘American Family’

by John Jamison

Fans knew Florence Henderson as the iconic mom of the Brady family in “The Brady Bunch.” The classic TV comedy depicted the trials and tribulations of an American family as they navigated what it means to share a household.

From 1969-1974, the show entertained fans all over the world. And the “Carol Brady” actor had an idea as to why so many people could relate to the on-screen family.

Florence Henderson, unfortunately, passed away in 2016. But following her role as Carol Brady on “The Brady Bunch,” she continued a successful acting career, appearing in series such as “The Love Boat” and “Murder, She Wrote.”

In 1999, Henderson sat down with the Archive of American Television to discuss what “The Brady Bunch” was all about.

“I think ‘The Brady Bunch’ reflects the idealized version of a family. And I don’t mean an American family. I mean a family anywhere in the world,” Henderson said. “Because this show has been on the air for so many years, I get mail from so many different countries- like 122 countries or something. So I know that this show represents something to people, you know, all races, all colors, religions. I know that minority groups absolutely adore this show. Because I travel around so much, and I see that, and I experience it.”

Why Did ‘The Brady Bunch’ Have Such International Appeal?

Florence Henderson touched on how the Brady family demonstrated something aspirational for all of the families out there. People everywhere could turn on an episode and immediately relate to whatever was happening within the Brady brood. National borders don’t magically change the way families interact with each other.

So how was the show able to achieve such a feat? Depicting an idealized version of a family wasn’t enough in and of itself.

“I think that ‘The Brady Bunch’ just represents, in its purity, and I think it was very pure, very innocent, and very much of a certain genre,” Henderson continued in the 1999 interview. “I don’t even know for sure what you would call it. It’s not your average sitcom. You know, it’s not a farce, it’s not a drama. I don’t know exactly what you would call it. But it’s just something that strikes a chord in people’s hearts.”

“The Brady Bunch” wasn’t beholden to a single genre. It wasn’t all funny, and it wasn’t all dramatic, happy, or sad. It was a blend of everything. That mixture of emotions is a reflection of real life. And according to Florence Henderson, that’s what endeared all families, not just American ones, to the Bradys.