The Brady Bunch has gone through so many incarnations. After producers canceled the show in 1974, the show continued to grow in popularity while in syndication. Since then, there have been specials, a variety show spin-off, a dramatic resurrection, and even movies.
But by the mid-1990s, Paramount executives rebooted The Brady Bunch again. This time in the form of a movie featuring an entirely new cast. Robert Reed (Mike Brady) had died in 1992. And the original cast was too old at that point to play the young versions of themselves. So, producers had to go on a search to find replacements.
Shelley Long Goes Brady
Producers picked Shelly Long to play the role Florence Henderson made famous in the 1995 A Very Brady Movie. The Brady Bunch had entered the era of irony, and Long understood that the movie would need to lean into the parody.
“I knew about the (The Brady Bunch), but I didn’t know the show,” Long told The Brady Bunch Exposed documentary. “So, I had to really learn her character, her movements, her voice this was a parody. This was Carol in the 90s so this was a little bit different Carol once she’s dealing with more 90s things.”
Sherwood Schwartz, who created The Brady Bunch, was involved in the project. That kept the tone from becoming mocking and remain mostly in-jokes and comedic takes on the silly plots.
The movie was a hit, earning $50 million at the U.S. Box Office — four times its budget, the documentary said. And it spawned a sequel, A Very Brady Sequel, a little more than a year later.
Lloyd Schwartz, creator Sherwood Schwartz’s son who worked on the films, said the show transcended television and became a cultural touchstone.
“People say to me, at least now The Brady Bunch is over and I say, ‘you know The Brady Bunch is a lot of things but over it isn’t,” he said. “The Brady Bunch has left the land of television Brady Bunch has entered the land of Americana.”
Five decades later with the show still in syndication, it’s hard to argue that point.
‘The Brady Bunch’ Becomes an Hour-Long Drama
Before the show fully embraced the parody, producers created what appeared on the surface to be a parody. Called The Bradys, the 1990 show follows the now-adult children and their children.
This was not a comedy but a serious drama that dealt with serious issues. It was a critical and commercial disaster. The cast openly mocked the show during promotional interviews, and critics roasted The Bradys.
The show was cancelled a year later in 1991.
“With all apologies to those that created the show, I had a feeling that this format would not,” said Eve Plumb, who returned to play Jan Brady.
Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia Brady, was the only cast member not to return however.