The Brady Bunch is an American television situation comedy, based around a large blended family. The show originally aired from September 26, 1969 to August 30, 1974 on the ABC network and was subsequently syndicated across the world.
Sherwood Schwartz, creator of the series, conceived the idea for the series after reading an article that a growing share of the marriages in the United States involved children from a previous marriage. To quote him, he said 'Because there was two lines in the L.A. Times that said 40% of marriages in that day had a child or children from previous marriage'.
Despite the similarities between the series and the 1968 theatrical release Yours, Mine and Ours starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball, the original script for The Brady Bunch (which was titled Yours and Mine at that early stage) predated the script for the film. However, the success of the film was likely a factor in the network ordering the series.
Mike Brady (Robert Reed), a widowed architect with sons Greg (Barry Williams), Peter (Christopher Knight) and Bobby (Mike Lookinland), married Carol Martin (née Tyler) (Florence Henderson), whose daughters were Marcia (Maureen McCormick), Jan (Eve Plumb) and Cindy (Susan Olsen). The daughters took the Brady surname. Schwartz wanted Carol to have been a divorcée. The network objected to this, but a compromise was reached whereby no mention was made of the circumstances in which Carol's first marriage ended, but many assume she was widowed. The newly-formed sextet, parents Carol and Mike, Mike's live-in maid Alice (Ann B. Davis), and the boys' dog Tiger settled into a large, suburban home designed by Mike.
Often erroneously cited as the first series to show a "blended" family (two series which debuted in the 1950s, "Make Room For Daddy" and "Bonanza" had step-siblings and half-siblings respectively), it came at a time when divorce and remarriage in America was seeing a surge. Episodes in the first season chronicled the family learning to adjust to its new circumstances and become a unit, as well as typical childhood problems such as dating, rivalries and family squabbles and the fact that their house had two bedrooms for six children.
Subtle references to larger social problems occasionally found their way into the dialogue from time to time. In one social-issue episode, season two's "The Liberation of Marcia Brady," Marcia explores the oppression of the Brady women and sets out to prove a girl can do anything a boy can. The boys find this very upsetting and Peter finds himself joining the Sunflower Girls, Marcia's club, in hopes of making her back down from her 'bad idea'.
Mike did much of his architectural work in an office/design studio within the house, an apparent way of lending some realism to the way in which sitcom dads seem to be almost always at home while nonetheless earning a good living. Sometimes they would go to his office at the building where he worked. He got home about the same time or a little while after the children got home from school, so they often had episodes where Mike would come in about the same time as the children, or right before dinner. It all depended on how much work he had to do that day.
The theme song penned by Schwartz quickly communicated to audiences that the Bradys were a blended family though the situation largely was deemphasized from the second season on with a few exceptions. In the episodes "Not So Rose Colored Glasses" and "Jan's Aunt Jenny" mention was made that Mike and Carol had been married for three years. Those episodes were in the third season. In "Kelly's Kids," the Bradys' adoptions (To quote: "Either way, you adopted three boys and you adopted three girls, right?") were referenced when their neighbors, the Kellys, adopted three boys of different races.
Here's the story,
Of a lovely lady,
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls.
All of them had hair of gold,
Like their mother,
The youngest one in curls.
Here's the story,
Of a man named Brady,
Who was busy with three boys of his own.
They were four men,
Living all together, but they were all alone-.
Till the one day when the lady met this fellow,
and they knew they was much more than a hunch.
That this group,
Must somehow form a family.
That's the way we all became the Brady Bunch,
The Brady Bunch- the Brady Bunch
That's the way- we became the Brady Bunch.