When I first came to the United States, I became a huge fan of â€œThe Brady Bunch.â€ It was the winter of 1978. I was seven years old, and I had never seen anything like it. Here was a family with perfect children, wise parents, a quirky live-in maid and even a dog. I watched every day after school. The Bradys were on back-to-back for an hour and a half, five days a week. I saw every episode more than once. In fact, that show probably helped me learn English because I watched it so much.
In hindsight, â€œThe Brady Bunchâ€ was an awful show. It was bland, predictable; every problem could be solved by the end of the episode (eye roll). Â And the Bradysâ€¦they were caricatures with no depth. Alice was quirky, Mr. Brady was wise, Marsha was vain, and Greg was athletic. Everyone was nice, gender-normative, thrifty, kind to animals, and the house was always spotless.
Â Iâ€™d like to say that â€œBradysâ€ was the only bland show I watched. It wouldnâ€™t be true, but I have a good excuse. You would be hard pressed to find anything different in the late seventies. On â€œLittle House on the Prairie,â€ for example, Laura Ingalls was good, Nelly Oleson was not. Predictably, Laura would win at the end of any confrontation. She also had a perfect family and a spotless house. I had not learned about suspension of disbelief back then, Â but I did know that cleanliness was next to godliness. Only innate goodness could explain how the Ingalls could keep so clean. The American frontier wasnâ€™t that nice.
But then again, it was television, make-believe. The world I watched was â€œperfect.â€ Most people in it were middle class and white. Â Kids usually had two parents, and if they didnâ€™t, it wasnâ€™t because of divorce or abandonment. No. Single parents were always widowed. One cool widow even toured with her musical progeny on a brightly colored school bus.
Nowadays, I canâ€™t watch seventies television without smirking. I am no longer a child, and I suppose that would account for my attitude change. Â However, television has also changed. For one, the original broadcast networks–ABC, CBS, and NBC–donâ€™t Â monopolize the airwaves anymore. They have to compete with cable networks, the Internet, torrents, and now even Netflix and Hulu+. Bland and predictable does not necessarily cut it anymore, although you can still find bland and predictable shows, especially on CBS.
However, I donâ€™t have to watch bland and predictable television. Not anymore. I can marathon all five seasons of â€œBreaking Badâ€ or â€œOrange is the New Blackâ€ on Netflix, or sample web series on Vimeo or YouTube. The choices are endless. They may not all be good, but they are endless.
And thatâ€™s why I donâ€™t miss â€œThe Brady Bunch.â€