Florence Henderson, Carol Brady of The Brady Bunch, died today. This is sad news; she was a good actress.
Now that I’ve paid my respects, I’ll admit I was never a huge Brady Bunch fan. Yet today’s onslaught of Brady nostalgia has uncovered all kinds of wonderful things I never noticed before.
First, let’s acknowledge that Florence Henderson was a beautiful woman. In her early career, she was glamorous but by the time she got to the Brady Bunch, she was more believable as a mom.
Yet you need go no further than the opening credits to witness the cast’s horrifying deterioration, like those Faces of Meth mugshot progressions. Florence’s hair was veering into alarming territory as the seasons wore on, but she did manage to begin pulling things together in the last season.
Though I have singled her out, Florence was by no means the only guilty party.
Little by little, the girls replaced their cute mod clothing with the blandest outfits the 1970s had to offer, while all the kids’ hairstyles are a reminder that LSD can make lots of crazy things sound like a good idea.
In Season I, Greg was a little Madman, but at the end of the series he had morphed into John Travolta’s darkest days. Or look at Cindy. Her pigtails were cute when she was little, but she was still sporting them at the end of the series, when she was in her mid-40s.
If you’re thinking it’s mean and cowardly for me to anonymously mock child actors who endured the painful years of adolescence on a world stage, I have to agree. To balance things out, let’s quickly spotlight Alice, who did not change her look in the slightest degree during the show’s run. Ann B. Wilson must have mastered that gym teacher look before the show started because while Cruel Mother Nature played havoc with the Bradys, time stood still with Alice.
Here’s a larger version of that last Ann B. Wilson picture… What do you suppose was going on with Jan and Peter?
Okay, one more point on the Bradys as representatives of the human experience, and we’re done.
Can we agree that some kids are lovable and some aren’t? Parents – even pretend parents on a sitcom – know this. They may have made an effort to like all the kids equally, but they probably didn’t.
With that in mind, what do you make of Florence Henderson’s expressions as she gazes at each of her pretend daughters?
Farewell, Florence! See you on the other side.