‘The Brady Bunch’: Why Susan Olsen Called Show’s Spin-Off a ‘Spectacular Turd’

by Evan Reier

Not every idea is a hit, despite how promising it is on paper. One such example of this is when the first reunion of The Brady Bunch came to fruition.

It came just a couple of years after the show’s run ended in cancellation. However, ABC president Fred Silverman thought there was still juice in the tank. This first started with a 60-minute special titled, The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

Considering the title of this article, it might come as a surprise that the special was a roaring success that spawned eight more episodes. Don’t worry, Susan Olsen has her points.

The ensuing episodes were, at best, mediocre in both quality and ratings. After those wrapped, that was that.

Years later, Susan Olsen talked with PopEntertainment.com about the show, holding no punches. In fact, the interview opens with quite a hilarious statement.

“It was a spectactular turd,” said the Cindy Brady actress. “We’re saying that, yeah, the show is bad; we’re saying it’s a turkey. But we also don’t want to put it down. The book itself is really a labor of love. There is nothing to apologize for now. The show is so spectacularly bizarre that it’s something to be proud of.”

It’s a paradoxical point of view, but there’s a legitimate reason The Brady Bunch star described it the way she did.

Olsen’s comments on the show kind of sound like someone who has watched someone dig up an entertainer’s corpse to make them dance one more time.

While The Brady Bunch cast would go on to reunite several more times over the years, there’s a specific nature about the variety hour that rubbed Olsen the wrong way.

“For me, a lot of the variety hour had been kind of blocked out,” Olsen said. “But it’s important for us to remember the variety hour because if we forget, something like this could happen again.” 

A lot of that had to do with where the stars and show were at. Before the decades of reruns and several movies made multiple generations come close to the Bradys, they weren’t exactly stars.

“I didn’t love what I was doing,” Olsen recalls. “I didn’t love the way I looked or the way I sounded. We weren’t called icons yet. The Brady Bunch didn’t become cool until the [Brady Bunch satirical movies of the 1990s]. It was something I had felt mildly ashamed of, at least from an artistic perspective. It was not something I could say I was a part of with any pride.”

Essentially, the show was a shotgun-spread of entertainment that didn’t do much well. Despite hitting the “variety” aspect of the name, the substance required for success was lacking. Another key factor missing was Eve Plumb, who didn’t return to be Jan Brady. The role was portrayed by Geri Reischl instead.