For my birthday, I received The Brady Bunch Seasons 1, 3, and 4 (I already had Season 2). Originally I was thinking that I didn’t need the 5th season. The whole jumping the shark with Oliver thing, you know. But, after going on TVLand and looking over the episodes (Marcia vs. Greg in the driving test, The Bradys go to the amusement park, Bobby kisses Millicent), I decided I need to get it at some point. Right now I want to focus on making my way through the first 4 seasons. And I plan to write A LOT about the Bradys in the next few weeks.
Now back to the subject of this particular blog: Mike and Carol Brady are the worst parents in the history of the world. Is that a little too harsh? Perhaps, but the more I watch the show, the more umbrage I take with their parenting choices and the more I realize just who is actually doing the parenting in the family: Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby and Cindy. That’s right, the kids parent each other (I have a lot to say about this in connection to Foucault and disciplinary power in future entries).
On the surface, Mike and Carol seem like the perfect parents (okay, maybe not, but it seems like they are supposed to represent the best parents ever). They are beautiful, kind, loving. They hardly ever yell or fight. They do *fun* things with the kids–like taking them on boat cruises, camping, and to Hawaii or acting in films about the Pilgrims or dancing in Hoe Downs with them. Yee Haw! These parents will do anything for their kids…they even take them (and Alice and Tiger and Fluffy) on their honeymoon. Despite all of this evidence in support of Mike and Carol as parents of the year, I can’t shake the feeling that the advice they give is just plain bad (or at least more often bad than good).
So, how and why are Mike and Carol the worst parents in the world? Bad advice. Crazy behavior. Inappropriate comments. And more. Much, much more. As I make my way through the first 4 (and maybe the 5th too!) seasons, I plan to offer a series of entries in which I catalog the countless ways in which Mike and Carol Brady fail to live up to the standard of perfect sitcom parents. Now what, you may ask, does this series of entries have to do with trouble and troublemaking? Maybe I am trying to trouble the representation of family values as the perfect heterosexual/nuclear family with their perfect moral lessons and their pretty family that always loves each other and gets along and resolves their issues in 23 minutes or less. And maybe I am trying to unsettle the idea that parents (especially ones as “beautiful” as Mike and Carol) always have all of the right answers.
Exhibit A: Here is the first among many examples of how Mike and Carol Brady are the worst parents in the history of the world. I am confident that the evidence requires no explanation (okay, I will give an explanation in another entry about Alice and her tenuous position in the family as the housekeeper):
See here at 3:52. In “Alice doesn’t live here anymore” Alice decides to leave because she thinks she is no longer needed. As Mike and Carol are talking it over, Carol mentions how she really wishes Alice wouldn’t leave. Mike says, “Well, we can’t make her stay. Abraham Lincoln put a stop to that.” Really? STA and I both couldn’t believe our ears when Mr. Mike-Father-of-the-year-Brady uttered this gem.