The Brady Bunch creator wanted to offer viewers a ''people comedy''
Image credit: The Everett Collection
When Gilligan's Island was washed away from television after making a three-season run on CBS, creator Sherwood Schwartz was left wondering where his new home would be.
He did what anyone stranded on an island would do — return to the mainland and start fresh.
Schwartz hatched the idea of The Brady Bunch after reading a statistic in The Los Angeles Times in the '60s. According to a 1969 interview with The Ogden Standard-Examiner, the statistic read: "In 30 percent of today's marriages, one or both parents have been married before."
With this in mind Schwartz created the character of Mike Brady, a father of three boys, played by Robert Reed. He then brought to life the feminine character of Carol, a mother of three girls, played by Florence Henderson.
Together they made one big boisterous bunch which helped make The Brady Bunch a Sunday afternoon mega-hit on ABC.
"I refer to the series as a 'people' comedy rather than a situation comedy," Schwartz said. "It's because the show is so real. Old comedy shows relied on jokes and gimmicks, but family life today produce its own complexities and need only be captured by the writers."
After he gained a family Schwartz added in a charming housekeeper (Alice Nelson) and a dog named Tiger to complete the already chaotic household.
In order to find the right kids to play the six Brady kids, Schwartz said he interviewed around 480 children. He called back 100 of those and then finally tested only 25.
The Brady house was a bit bigger than your average place. The house set, which took up all of Stage 5 at Paramount Studios, would be the dream living situation for any family — even a family of eight!
"With this many people we won't be running out of stories," Schwartz said. "Our built-in problem is really two families living in one house."
With one problem figured out, the next one would be for Schwartz to figure out how viewers could relate to The Brady Bunch in order for the ratings to skyrocket.
According to a 1972 interview with The Town Talk, his concern with ratings turned out to be just fine. Schwartz said both Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch were the highest-ranking series for children under the age of 12 on TV at the time.
"I don't really aim the show at children, but it turns out that way because a child is featured in each episode," Schwartz said. "I have certain moral values that I try to inject in the show. One of the most important of these is the element of the parental respect among the offspring."
No matter the audience, Schwartz created one of the most relatable and lovable families of the decade.
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