“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”
“Mom always said, ‘Don’t play ball in the house.”
You may not remember the name of the guy who created these shows, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t remember those quotes from The Brady Bunch or Gilligan’s Island. And who among us can’t sing the theme song to both shows?
When I first read that Sherwood Schwartz had died at the age of 94, I knew the name looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. As I continued to read that Schwartz was the writer and creator of two of the most popular TV series of the ’60s and ’70s, Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch, it hit me why the name was familiar. I’d seen it so many times on TV while watching those shows as a kid.
Born in 1916 in Passaic, N.J., Schwartz enjoyed a long career, first writing jokes for Bob Hope, and working on such radio and tv shows as The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, then later creating two of America’s most beloved shows that helped shape television in its early days.
TV critics weren’t happy with either The Brady Bunch or Gilligan’s Island. They claimed that Gilligan’s Island was gag-ridden corn and that The Brady Bunch was a sugarcoated view of American family life. But thankfully, critics don’t always know what they’re talking about.
During the 70s, viewers enjoyed watching a nice, clean-cut family deal with the usual, mundane, family life issues. Its slice-of-life simplicity was comforting and familiar. And it’s a good thing too because it’s the same reason people read my blog about the ordinary happenings of my family of three girls and three boys (without Alice, but with more than one bathroom, thankfully). It’s the same reason people read the blogs of countless thousands – it’s comforting to know we’re not alone in our daily struggles, challenges, and joys.
We enjoy peeking in on someone else’s life. We like the assurance that, “Oh thank God it’s not just my kids who don’t listen and who play ball in the house!” Or maybe we like to read about someone else’s fail so we can feel momentarily superior in that ‘our kids would never do that!’ Until, of course, our kids do that very thing that made us feel smug a moment ago. And sometimes we peek into someone else’s life to see how they handled a problem. For example, if I’m ever faced with 94 books of trading stamps and my three boys want to use them to buy a canoe and my three girls want to get a sewing machine with them, I’ll know that it’s a good idea to compromise and buy a color TV. There’s something to be said for those shows about nothing. It’s the nothing, the ordinary, the everyday to which we can relate.