Sherwood Schwartz, creator of “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch,” has died at age 94. Naturally, I’m remembering how I hated “The Brady Bunch” for giving me a fake picture of family life.
I hated “The Brady Bunch” because it made me so angry that my own family was never like that. But then no one’s family is really like that.
I did like the movie adaptations that came out in the 1990s because the films mocked the feel of the original series. You had the family living in the 1990s but acting like they were in the 1970s. Some elements of the family were modernized, though: Alice the housekeeper and Sam the butcher get it on at one point.
When Mike asks Sam what he’s doing there in his robe in the middle of the night, rummaging through the fridge, Sam says, “Oh, just delivering some meat.”
Obviously, Schwartz’s point was to create the perfect picture of family, not because it reflected reality, but because it would be nice if it were reality.
Now that the chip on my shoulder has been filled in by time, experience and hopefully a little wisdom, I see “The Brady Bunch” as a nice idea, however unrealistic. In fact, the escape from reality was a welcome relief to a lot of people whose families were miserable and ugly. A little relief helps you regroup and carry on.
My problem is that I’ve always had a tendency to overthink these things.
I never took issue with “Gilligan’s Island.” As absurd as the show was, I’ve always liked the theme of people with nothing in common getting thrown together — forced to become a new family of sorts in order to survive.
I admit without shame that my favorite episode is the one with the Japanese sub pilot who didn’t realize the war was over; the one who complained that the Chinese stole the idea for water torture from Japan.
Despite how the younger, angrier version of me felt, the older me believes Schwartz did a lot of good for a society that tends to stew in its own, stinking, cynical juices.
Rest in peace. I hope you find the folks in Heaven to be something like the characters you created.