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1960’s: The Brady Bunch

The 1960’s was the beginning for one of the greatest eras American pop culture. Mass media had a particularly amazing rise in this decade from the beginnings of the Internet to color television and its growing prevalence allowed the rise of many popular shows. The Brady Bunch was one of those shows; it first aired in September of 1969 and instantly became popular. Though it never hit the top ten charts, it stood the test of time and remains as one of the most popular classic television shows.

A man named Sherwood Schwartz, the same man who gave us many laughs with his previous sitcom Gilligan’s Island, created the Brady bunch. The Brady Bunch is the story of a young family. A widowed mother named Carol with three blonde girls and a widower named Mike with three little boys marry and navigate through the suburban life as a blended family. Their children’s ages range from young grade school to early teen. With the political and social discord in the 1960’s the show generally avoided controversial topics and from the current culture’s perspective generally portrayed the family life as wholesome and focused on issues that arose within a family, like sibling rivalries and blended family issues.

Single parent homes and blended families were becoming more popular. Traditional family values were still very present during these times but shows like the Brady Bunch helped positively influence how these blended families were viewed. Blended families were more likely to come out of divorce but the parents in the Brady Bunch were both widowed and being widowed in this era was much more respectable then being divorced. I think that because being widowed was more respectable it allowed the viewers to feel safer when they watched the show; it allowed the viewers to root for the family. I believe that because of this, the influence for accepting a blended family became more widely embraced and drew less attention to the fact that a family was blended and more of a focus on rooting for a blended family.

It would be a mistake to overlook the hardships that come with a divided or broken home and it is important to look at this from a ministry perspective as well. If you have ever watched an episode of the Brady Bunch you know the extent of their family troubles, and it isn’t much. The Brady Bunch has it really easy in comparison to the speculative reality of most youth in this era. The truth is, blended families rarely get along and adapt so well to their new members. One of the goals of the show may have been to socialize children of blended families by portraying their circumstance as normal; however, it was most likely far from normal. After reading Roots book, Children of Divorce, I can see that this is the beginning of the loss of ontological identity for children. In ministry during this era, it would be important to get and stay connected with the body of Christ.

The Brady Bunch Family!

The Brady Bunch Family!

By Corey Acoba

 

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2 responses to “1960’s: The Brady Bunch

  1. After reading this, I feel like the Brady Bunch is a show that most people would feel they could relate too; even though the show may feel a little cheesie in today’s television. Seeing single parents is a very common thing; whether it is due to divorce or a parent just walking out before the kid is born. It’s also very common to see families merge. It’s seems like the Brady Bunch helped society warm up to the idea of merging families, by appealing to the audiences empathetic side. They make both the parents widows, focus on the difficulties of living in broken homes, and avoid politic topics that could possibly cause distress.

  2. I don’t know how well the Brady Bunch portrays actual issues that arise in a blended family; they really do have it quite easy. As you said, the reality of a blended family is a lot starker. Both the parents and the children have to adjust to a new family dynamic. Not only do the children have new siblings to think of and interact with, but also they have a new authority figure to answer to in their stepmother or father. Also, we can’t forget about the social stigma attached to blended families, especially during the 60s. I think you’re right that, in this instance, the resistance to the idea of a blended family was lessened by the fact that both parents are single due to death, not divorce. However, the Brady Bunch and other progressive shows opened the door in a subtle way to modern America more readily accepting the notion of broken families. Shows like this get the viewer acclimated to the broken family, thus, broken families don’t seem so repelling. It portrays a reality, one that might be even more relevant today than it was in the 60s: broken homes are a part of our society; I myself come from a broken home. It is a present reality that we have to acknowledge as youth ministers. Many of our students will be dealing with this very reality. It is important to affirm the role of marriage and family to students while also accepting them and providing a family of sorts within the youth group.

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