Most audiences didn’t think of The Brady Bunch as a hip show, and it didn’t try to be. No one was going to confuse Greg Brady for The Fonz. The show didn’t try to keep up with the times, as much as it was escapism television during a very turbulent time in the U.S.
“They always wanted us to say groovy, and we were just completely embarrassed to say that,” she told The Brady Bunch Exposed documentary. “Because even though it wasn’t the thing to say, it was being made to say it. It was sort of, you know, putting too fine a point on it.”
Keep in mind The Brady Bunch aired from 1969-1974. The hippie generation had come and gone, and there was nothing groovy about saying groovy anymore. This was the Nixon Administration’s America. This was Vietnam and Watergate America.
But there was a reasoning behind this. It wasn’t just that the writers were older and out of touch with youth culture. It was forward thinking.
“I didn’t think that we were dressed cool. There was actually some concern about not dressing us too timely,” Susan Olsen, who played Cindy Brady said. “That was the excuse they gave us. I said ‘Why can’t we wear tank shirts?’ And they said because you know this show will probably go into syndication and those won’t be in style anymore.”
And while this gambit paid off, as The Brady Bunch was a massive success in syndication, that left the actors trapped in a timeless void, which hurt their careers for a time.
Eve Plumb Tries to Escape ‘The Brady Bunch’ Mold
When Paramount abruptly canceled the show in 1974, Hollywood closed its doors to The Brady Bunch. They intentionally didn’t stand out as that was part of the show’s design. So, most casting directors didn’t take them seriously.
“Being a former Brady and trying to do anything in the industry was extremely uncool,” Susan Olsen told The Brady Bunch Exposed. “And there was not really any respect for us. It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, you’re on that stupid saccharine-sweet show. It’s like, well, I didn’t write the scripts.”
Eve Plumb, however, decided to take some time off and finish high school. But instead of trying for another traditional sitcom, she went for a more risque performance in a 1977 TV movie called Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn about a teenage prostitute. And she received great reviews for her performance.
“I think every actor wants to play somebody who’s bad, you know,” she said. “Doing the bad things, so I got to play a bland teen prostitute and of course I was so naive.”
However, she eventually returned to the Brady fold later for specials and future series as the show continued to grow in popularity in syndication.