The Brady Bunch creator wanted to offer viewers a ''people comedy''

What did a stranded island, a family of eight and a housekeeper all have in common? Sherwood Schwartz.

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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20 Comments

Lillyrose 4 months ago
I don't like Gilligan's Island, but I love the show The Brady Bunch!
Runeshaper 4 months ago
Sherwood Schwartz was a genius!

Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch were both FANTASTIC!
harlow1313 4 months ago
I fancy myself too sophisticated for these two lame-brained shows.

I am ashamed to admit, I somehow like them.
KJExpress 4 months ago
"Sunday afternoon mega-hit?"
daDoctah KJExpress 4 months ago
Someone's too young to remember the original run and only knows it from syndication.

Schwartz may have been thinking ahead when he conceived of the show, but I find it hard to believe that he could have envisioned all the later revivals and adaptations. The cartoon show with just the kids? The variety show with a swimming pool in the middle of the stage? The "serious" drama where Marcia became an alcoholic and Bobby was paralyzed in an auto-racing accident? No sitcom had ever gone in a direction like any of those, let alone *all* of them, at the time.

Schwartz had to write a theme song for "Gilligan's Island" that explained who these people were and how they ended up there, because test audiences were confused. And when he got around to creating the Bradys, the tests came back the same way so he had to write *another* theme song to explain them as well.
KJExpress daDoctah 4 months ago
That sounds like the correct explanation. I certainly remember watching it at night, even though I was only six. And you're right about not envisioning all those later versions. Who knew?
bradyguy daDoctah 2 months ago
NOBODY could have conceieved of all the later iterations of the show...especially a simple little sitcom that was just not that popular in its initial airings...never even cracking the Top 30!!

But here we are 54 years later...still talking about it...tell me THAT will be happening to Zack and Cody 40 years from now...LOL
bradyguy KJExpress 2 months ago
LOL...even if you're too young to remember the originals...

When has ANY show been a Sunday afternoon mega-hit??? Except football...🙄🤣🙄🤣
KJExpress bradyguy 2 months ago
Very true! 🏈
MrsPhilHarris 4 months ago
Call it what you like. It is still a sit-com. 🤭
bradyguy MrsPhilHarris 2 months ago
Nobody said it wasn't. But thanks.
MrsPhilHarris bradyguy 2 months ago
Whoops. I responded to the wrong story. It was Maureen McCormick that said they considered it a drama
BenSobeleone 4 months ago
Would have liked to have seen a Brady Bunch/Gilligan's Island crossover episode.
LoveMETV22 BenSobeleone 4 months ago
" a Brady Bunch/Gilligan's Island crossover."
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That would have been fun (a little confusing) but fun. :
daDoctah LoveMETV22 4 months ago
Knowing that Jerry Van Dyke was offered the role of Gilligan but turned it down and then went on to star in "My Mother, the Car" instead....
LoveMETV22 daDoctah 4 months ago
Yes. Jerry wanted to follow somewhat in his brothers footsteps. It would have been an interesting series had some of the other actors considered for the roles been cast instead.
bradyguy LoveMETV22 2 months ago
Cute. Fellow Brady's...what???
bradyguy LoveMETV22 2 months ago
It really wouldn't have changed that much... Sure, we're all used to Bob Denver...but would JVD really have made the show THAT different??? Unfortunately, he could NOT walk in his brother's footsteps...DVD was QUITE talented. Jerry...??? Well...he did do "Coach". Yeah....there's your answer... But good for him...
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