Everybody knows “The Brady Bunch.” You’ve seen all the episodes. You can click off the names of the cast members and know the family dog.
Yet the show never was that popular when it was on the air from 1969-74. Consider that The Brady Bunch never even ranked among the nation’s top 30 shows. The highest the show finished in the Nielsen ratings was 31st. That was in season three. It should be pointed out that it still was watched by millions. But there weren’t many channel options back then.
ABC canceled The Brady Bunch soon after it completed the minimum number of shows for syndication. And The Brady Bunch exploded in reruns.
Brady Bunch Buoyed By Syndicated Reruns
Barry Williams, in an interview with the New York Post, said the show started trending when TV watching began evolving.
“This is Monday-morning quarterbacking,” said Williams, who played Greg, the oldest child in the blended Brady family.
“But what is unique about “The Brady Bunch” is that it came along at a time when the entire complexion of TV was changing with entry of cable.
“Our show went into strip syndication on the local and major networks before we finished filming … and since then it’s never been off the air, ever — and that’s unique. “The Andy Griffith Show” and “I Love Lucy” are really the only two shows that have had this kind of consistent run.”
There were 117 Brady Bunch episodes in the rerun can. “I Love Lucy” had 180 during its run from 1951-57. The “Andy Griffith Show, which was on air from 1960-68, generated a whopping 249.
Brady’s Weren’t Near As Popular As Shows with Lucy and Andy Griffith
Both those shows were far more popular than the Brady Bunch. “I Love Lucy” was the top-ranked show in the country for four of its seven years. It never fell out of the top three. The “Andy Griffith Show” never fell out of the top 10.
In addition, “I Love Lucy” and the “Andy Griffith Show” both finished as No. 1 in their final seasons. The only other show to accomplish this feat was “Seinfeld.” These, by definition, are iconic shows. “The Brady Bunch,” in its run, never sniffed that sort of status.
Yet, as Barry Williams said, the Bradys live on. Obviously, after nearly 50 years off the air, the older members of the cast have died. The child actors now are old enough to be grandparents. They gather for frequent reunion interviews. Barry Williams is 66. And Susan Olsen, who played Cindy, will be 60 in August. She is the youngest cast member.
But generations of fans are fascinated with the Brady’s. CBS/Paramount observed the 50-year anniversary of the show by releasing a collection of all the Brady Bunch episodes, plus the specials and movies.
Plus, with all the cable networks available now, there has yet to be a time when a Brady Bunch episode can’t be found. The show has run straight through since 1975, the year it officially was canceled.