Cover Image: The Way We All Became The Brady Bunch

The Way We All Became The Brady Bunch

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Member Reviews

I was of the generation who grew up watching The Brady Bunch and looked forward to reading this book.  It is a fun read that brings you back to times and situations of many years ago.  If you are one who enjoyed the show and want to learn more about the background of the making of this show, this is the book for you!
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Here's the story...  Sorry, couldn't resist. I was going to say this will be a great comfort read for those "of a certain age," but in Kimberly Potts's deep dive into the creation and life of The Brady Bunch, she shares that the show's best ratings came after it was cancelled in 1974. Fifty years later it's still attracting viewers and has been the subject of a Saturday morning cartoon, a variety show, a dramedy called The Bradys, a stage musical, two big-screen movies, and a 1990s theatrical production (where stars like Jane Lynch and Andy Richter reenacted original series episodes).

Is there anyone who hasn't somehow heard about The Brady Bunch? If so, I have to assume they are completely confused about why everyone is arguing what character square they represent in every Zoom meeting being held (has anyone had a Zoom meeting without that being discussed?). Just how popular is this little show that was almost never made and was, despite its homey appeal, subject to almost constant turmoil? Crazily so.

According to the history discussed by Potts, the show has been "reverently spoofed by The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Sesame Street. Its iconic theme song and tic-tac-toe-board opening sequence have been copied by Game of Thrones and The Avengers. “Weird Al” Yankovic has sung about it. A casino company adapted it as a themed slot machine, complete with video clips and theme song. The porn industry has turned it into a XXX adult film (with four sequels). Brady parents Carol (Florence Henderson) and Mike (Robert Reed) top lists of TV’s all-time greatest moms and dads every year. The Brady Bunch was named the all-time favorite television series of Generation X, according to an MTV survey. Since the show launched in syndication in 1975, it has aired somewhere in the world every year."

If you're a fan at all, this book is for you. All the fun facts are here - How Gilligan's Island helped the show get its start, how the kids got their respective roles, relationships on and off set, and, of course, the drama. I think we all knew Robert Reed had a reputation for being difficult, but man, I didn't KNOW know. The details on those stories is both sad and disheartening. Yet for all of his on set antics (and there were many, some really inexcusably unprofessional), he seemed to be a good "dad" figure to the kids even off set. He was a man in personal turmoil, which may explain some of the difficulty, but he also seemed to think the show was beneath him, which was a bummer to learn. Then again, I was a kid when I was watching, I wasn't looking at it from the point of view of a classically trained actor who wanted a more serious show worth his credentials.

STREET SENSE: The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch is a fun, informative read and a real blast into the past. I recommend for any TV nerds out there like me, whether you were a fan of the show or not. There's a lot of discussions about the business and all the manipulations on that front. Check it out if you need some old time comfort in these stressful times.

COVER NERD SAYS: I love the mid-mod pop stylings of this cover. And who better to be there than Alice? Ann B. Davis played a big part on and off screen and the way Potts references her throughout is pretty funny. I love the fact that the original font is used for the title. The colors feel kind of washed out and don't draw me in, but everyone who knows the show will understand the subject matter just by the title/font. This is a pretty strong cover, not a huge favorite.
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Kimberly did such an amazing job with this book!!  My absolute favorite part was when she was describing how the show came to be and how it changed tv history.  Her research is perfect!!  If you need a fun book in your life right now -- pick this one!!
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I must first admit that I love the Brady Bunch! I have watched all of the shows, spin-offs, etc. including the house renovation season on HGTV.  But this is the first book I have read about the show. I found this book to be fun to read, giving inside scoops on the show and behind the scenes. Now some of it I already knew, but not everything. I really did like reading this book. I found it was well written and easy to read. It did not take me long to read it.  If you love the Brady Bunch, I do recommend it~
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A thorough, gossipy (in the best way), history of The Brady Bunch, the five-season TV show that became a pop culture phenomenon. TV writer Potts has clearly done her research--and is also clearly a fan. She handles the more salacious rumors and tell-all books with a light touch. Perfect for fans of the show.
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Growing up in the seventies, I was obsessed with the Brady Bunch and could hardly wait to get off the school bus to watch it in the afternoons. So this book was like a revisit to a lost part of my childhood. It was interesting to read about how the show got it's start and lots of behind the scenes trivia. It inspired me to spend a weekend watching old episodes...boy, they sure don't make tv shows like that anymore.
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I am a part of the generation that enjoyed The Brady Bunch through syndication and also enjoyed some of the extra spin offs and reunions in real time.  I was such a fan of this happy family who could solve problems in one episode and they were dealing with issues that me and my peers were dealing with - I loved it.  

I loved a book dedicated to the ins and outs of The Brady Bunch.  There were so many things I learned - both positive and negative.  I was so sad to learn about Robert Reed's disinterest in the show and his attitude to the creative team; it will taint my future viewing of him in the show.  I did love to read about how the entire team really made sure it was a great experience for all the kids working on the show.  I was glad to see that they put the kids first a lot.  

What I loved most about the book was that it was almost the culmination of a bunch of memoirs and other sources all in one book.  The chapters were sort of themed, so I liked that each chapter was about one thing or another from the conception of the idea of the show to behind the scenes antics.  Readers could almost read this and skip all the individual memoirs.  

I would love this author to do some other books on some other pop culture things from the past.
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Baby boomers loved the original show and Gen Xers loved the reruns as children and teens. Adults not so much. For a relatively low-rated show, how does everyone still remember every characters’ name? We All Became the Brady Bunch attempts to explain the show’s enduring popularity.

Every American has perfected the middle girl Jan’s jealous whine of “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” Who doesn’t remember Marcia’s football to the nose, Bobby’s experience with laundry soap, and Peter’s cracking voice? The moments all seem iconic to me as a watcher at the same age as the youngest son, Bobby during the show’s original run.

The Brady Bunch is still relevant today through memes, SNL skits, and the recent HGTV rehab of the home used for the exterior shots of the Brady house. In addition, all five seasons of the show are on Hulu and all but season five are on Amazon Prime.

We All Became the Brady Bunch is an excellent outsider look into the Brady enterprise. Secrets I haven’t heard before are included. For example, the show’s producer originally wanted Gene Hackman to play the father but the studio rejected him as being too inexperienced. Gene would go on to win two Best Actor Academy Awards for the French Connection and Unforgiven. Instead, Robert Reed was hired. A closeted Shakespearean actor seems like a strange choice for a father on a goofy sitcom. Indeed, Reed himself often battled unsuccessfully over the scripts with the showrunners.

Overall, if you are a fan, you should pick up How We All Became the Brady Bunch. Due to its outsider perspective, it doesn’t have an agenda to push like some of the actor’s memoirs. However, I am taking one star off for the complete absence of photographs. A televised show is by its nature visual. It seems strange to have a book about one not be visual too. 4 stars!

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my digital copy in exchange for an honest opinion. 

I will admit that I grew up a Brady Bunch fan so when I saw this as available on Netgalley, I automatically requested it. Don't get me wrong, I was never the obsessed fan that many many people are ( I haven't even watched an episode in too many years to count) but back when I was youngish, I watched every single episode and I did watch the variety show and the movies and anything else that came out. This was a very interesting read for me. There was so much information that I had no clue about and it was a constant learning process. That being said, there were a couple of times where it started to read too much like a textbook and that is when I had to put it down. Once that starts happening, my mind just doesn't want to play anymore and I have to read it in smaller time increments. :) Other than that, I really enjoyed the book and yes, I know. I can be a bit of a nerd.

Once I was finished, I had to add a couple of the Brady Kid books into my Goodreads list to be read. I am not really sure why I never read them before.
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If this is your first foray into Brady biographies, it is an entertaining read. The book is easy-to-follow, a fairly quick read, and provides a lot of background information and tidbits.  With so many books out there on the subject (including tell-alls by the actors and producers), there really isn't much more to say on the subject. With this book, author Potts decides to give perspective and thoughts on why the Brady Bunch remains so beloved over the years and to also give chapters and chapters on its influences.  As such, this is more of a 'third person removed' type of biography with excellent perspective.  

The book is written in chronological order - starting with the inception of the story, hiring the actors, and then going to the variety shows, spin off concepts, sequels, and then eventually to influences.  Details of the actual filming or events during filming are conspicuously missing; the book goes from casting, to Robert Reed's tantrums, to the spin offs/variety shows.  I would have loved to read more about what happened during filming.  But other than "Greg" liking "Marcia" in more than a brotherly way in a certain scene, we don't get much of it.

The book doesn't spend much time on the actors portraying the kids - after all, most either had a biography written or simply refused to talk about the time spent being a Brady.  The parents get a bit more time, especially a whole chapter or two devoted to Robert Reed's feud with Sherwood Schwartz over the schmaltzy nature of the show.  I think most interesting were the interviews with Lloyd Schwartz, who often had to act as an intermediary between his father and Reed. 

This book is what I would call a "loving" tribute; meaning, bad things are glossed over or softened.  E.g., Reed's temper tantrums were offset with the cast respecting that he was fatherly to all of them, cared deeply for the kids, and was frustrated about being in the closet and being a Shakespearean actor forced to do broad comedy in a sitcom for a paycheck.  As well, there are no discussions about drugs, alcohol, or any 'scandals' that the actors got into after the show.  You'd think they were more annoyed by the lingering Brady associations than limited in the rest of their careers and lives by it.

Perhaps the reason I am rating this a 3 out of 5 is because I watched an E True Hollywood Story on the show right after reading the book and it pretty much said the same thing, word for word in many instances, as the book.  But with that show, I could at least get visuals.  The book simply cannot do the variety's show's eye burning polyester outfits justice.  There are no images, stills, or pictures.

In all, the book is well written and informative. I greatly missed having anecdotes about the filming and any issues or amusing asides that arose during that time.  I also felt this is a highly sanitized biography that avoids any of the negative aspects of being a Brady.  Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
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Thank you to Net Galley and Grand Central Publishing for an e-ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.  I grew up with The Brady Bunch, and I haven't always loved the books that have been written.  This one was very good, and I definitely recommend it.
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Read if you: Want a behind-the-scenes look at an iconic sitcom.

Here's the story....about a sitcom that never broke the top 30 but has achieved immortality through endless reruns. Dismissed by critics but loved by its young audience who identified with one of the "three very lovely girls" or the three Brady boys. Kimberly Potts has created an affectionate and intriguing look at the sitcom that has spawned numerous reunions, parodies, and even Internet memes. She also paints a sensitive portrayal of Robert Reed, who openly mocked the show but had great affection for his young co-stars. Get this for your Gen X library patrons or your favorite Gen Xer in your life.

Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing and Netgalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Author Kimberly Potts provides insight into one of television's most beloved programs of all time. The Brady Bunch never garnered top ratings during its five seasons, but it remains popular 50 years after the first show aired in syndication. Several other programs featuring the Brady Bunch cast appeared throughout the years, sometimes with a "fake Jan" or "fake Marcia." We learn about the show's casting, about Robert Reed's hatred for the program, and more in the pages. Comparisons to other shows of the time and influence upon shows that appeared later are covered. The show's fans will want to own or read a copy of this book. The book provided a trip down memory lane as the author mentioned things I read on the pages of popular teen magazines of the 70s such as Tiger Beat. The book covers the recent HGTV renovation of the home used for exterior house shots. I received an electronic advance review copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The publisher classified this book under "Art & Photography" at NetGalley so I expected a little text with a lot of photos. Instead I got a lot of text and no photos. In spite of the disappointment, I still enjoyed the book. (3.5 stars)
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Serious disclaimer here:  I am a serious Bradyphile.  Honestly.  I know it's not totally groovy to admit that - - or maybe it is now, 50 years after the iconic sitcom debuted to lukewarm (or flat out vicious) reviews -- but there it is.  One of my warmest and strongest memories of childhood (and yes, even into and through adolescence) was coming home from school to watch the syndicated episodes of the perfect blended family.  No matter how stressed or upset or tired I was from school, catching up with the Bradys always made me feel good and it didn't matter how many times I had already seen a particular episode (because I had and have seen them all many, many times.)  The quintessential Bunch always put a smile on my face, a lift in my heart and could be watched over and over.

Joining the library of Brady-themed tomes is Kimberly Potts' telling of (as the cover tells us) "How the Cancelled Sitcom Became the Beloved Pop Culture Icon We Are Still Talking About Today."  Truer words, right?  I'm sure no one - - creator Sherwood Schwartz, the execs at ABC, nor the stars -- and particularly not star Robert Reed -- would have guessed back in 1968 when the pilot was filmed, or in September of 1969, when the first episode aired, that fifty years on, not only would the show still be airing but would have spawned a massive franchise that included a variety hour, cartoons, reunion-type shows, television movies, theatrical releases, plays and, of course, the ubiquitous merchandise.  

Yet, here we are with The Brady Bunch not only still a part of America (perhaps more so than back during the 1969-1974 original run of the series) but with the fascination still there, as evidenced by HGTV's September 2019 four-part limited series in which various designers are helped by the six original Brady kids to renovate the home that was used for exterior shots as the Brady residence into the actual Brady residence as seen on our television screens.  Far out!  

I found The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch a quick and enjoyable read (as any true Brady fan would.)  Ms. Potts starts from the beginning, long before the lovely lady ever met the man named Brady, with Sherwood Schwartz, who aimed to be a doctor before the entertainment field beckoned.  (Can you imagine if Schwartz had not gone to Hollywood?  No Bradys, no Gilligan's Island!)  She tells the backstory of how Schwartz came up with the concept for the Bunch (a newspaper article) and how our beloved show could have been called The Bradley Brood (horrors!).   Maybe not unknown facts for a ride-or-die Bradyphile but Ms. Potts does manage to throw in some facts/gossip/entertainment that was relatively new to me.  I won't spoil it for those who haven't read the book yet, other than this one that was a particular fave of mine:  At the time that Florence Henderson unexpectedly passed away in 2016, she was in talks with producer Lloyd Schwartz (Sherwood's son) to revive the Bunch, with Carol as a widow who dates and eventually marries a younger man (to the tune of 30 years) who is a friend of one of her children.  Scandalous!  And so juicy.  Sigh.  What could have been . . . 

Ms. Potts interviewed many original Bradys as well as those on the Brady periphery and was able to fashion together a wonderful remembrance of the series, as well as the franchise itself.  I'm always pleased when such offerings as The Brady Girls Get Married and its short-lived spinoff, The Brady Brides aren't given short shrift and are acknowledged.  They certainly weren't Shakespeare but remain beloved by this writer.  

I appreciated the pages that were given to Robert Reed, Florence Henderson, and Ann B. Davis, all of whom we have lost.  Most of the Brady-realizing public has heard that Reed was difficult on set for a variety of factors (but never in front of the children) so it was nice to read a counterbalance in which his kindness and generosity was highlighted, as well as his post-Brady work.   I personally loved hearing that Henderson was vastly different from the prim and proper Brady matron, with a crazy sense of humor, and that Davis was fond of fast sports cars that she would race around L.A.  

The part of me that welcomes irony found it humorous to read the scathing reviews that were printed after the first episode aired, the authors of which forecast a short shelf life for the Bradys (and Alice!) and did not believe the series would resonate with anyone.  Boy, did they have to eat their words!  Not only did the series resonate and continues to do so but the Brady formula was the impetus behind many shows that followed.  

In finishing the book, I was left feeling warm and fuzzy and with a renewed appreciation for the fictional family, as well as the real-life persons (writers, directors, actors, producers) who brought the show to life.  It's gratifying to know that the Bradys lived on in people's hearts for decades and will continue to do so.  

If you're a Brady fan, you simply must pick this book up.  Even if you're not one that would choose to visit 4222 Clinton Way and hang out with the Bradys for a good old fashioned potato sack race or a roaring 20s party, you should find the book interesting and enjoyable.  Pull up a chair in your orange and green kitchen, fix a plate of pork chops and applesauce and dig in!
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I'm not the biggest Brady fan in the world, but I was totally won over by the author's enthusiasm for the topic. You feel like you have a really excited friend telling you all these details, some of which you might have heard before but not remembered: "Marcia Brady almost played Jan Brady! Mama Partridge almost played Mama Brady!" The author tells more of Sherwood Schwartz's viewpoint, which makes many of the show's stylistic choices make more sense: he believed that any group of people, whether stranded on Gilligan's Island or forming a blended family like the Bradys, could learn to get along and be happy. This leads him on a long, winding journey to produce five seasons (and endless spinoffs) of the iconic sitcom. I found myself making mental notes to re-watch certain episodes, which I hadn't expected!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the digital ARC.
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This is a wonderful look at everything Brady Bunch. If you loved the series then you will love this book. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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This was a charming book to read.  It's nice to learn about things like this that I recall with such fondness.
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Of you love the Brady's, and honestly who doesn't, you will love this book. Comprehensive book on EVERYTHING Brady Bunch. Spans 50 years, and it's worth a trip down memory lane. Loved it

Thanks to author,publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
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