My 7-year-old daughter has become obsessed with The Brady Bunch. She’s slowly making her way through the whole series, and not going in order, because she likes watching the kids get older, and then go back to being young again. Ah, the magic of Hulu.
It’s a strange experience, watching it as an adult. It was a huge part of my childhood, and while I remembered the episodes very well, I did remember one thing wrong: I thought, as a kid, that Mike and Carol Brady were very strict, interfering parents. I grew up in a very lax household when it came to rules, and so I saw them as being a little overbearing. Now when I watch it, I don’t think they’re overbearing at all. They’re pretty relaxed, giving the kids lots of freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.
Another thing I’m realizing as we watch together is that my daughter can learn a lot from Marcia. Marcia’s not just the pretty one who wins trophies and makes Jan jealous; it turns out she’s a great role model for a growing girl. Here’s why:
1. She’s a Feminist
When Marcia wants to prove that girls can do anything boys can, she shows up at Greg’s Frontier Scouts meeting, and demands to join. She proves that against all odds, and the mockery of the boys in the scout troop, she can set up a tent, start a fire and find her way home, all with a smile on her face. And in the end, she doesn’t even need to be a Scout; she just wanted to prove that she could do it.
Years later, when Greg disparages women drivers, she proves herself again, winning a competition with him on a course set up by Mike to see who’s the better driver. Go, Marcia, go!
2. She’s Compassionate
Remember Molly Webber? The kids nominate her to be a hostess for Senior Banquet Night as a joke, and Marcia feels terrible. So she gives Molly a makeover, teaching her to be confident and speak up for herself, and coaches her into becoming a viable candidate instead of a victim.
Of course, it all goes to Molly’s head, but that’s not Marcia’s fault.
A few years before that, Marcia found herself running against Greg for class president. She ran a good campaign, but at the last minute, she let compassion win out over ambition, and conceded the election gracefully and eloquently.
3. She’s Responsible
When Carol and Mike can’t find a babysitter, Marcia and Greg convince them that they are old enough to babysit themselves, and do such a good job that they end up calling the police on Carol, Mike and Alice, all of whom are sneaking around the house trying to check in on things. We know Greg couldn’t have pulled that one off on his own.
4. She Learns From Her Mistakes, and Admits When She’s Wrong
That’s a hard one for most kids. Most adults, too. But Marcia is always willing to admit she screwed up and take whatever steps she can to put things right.
Remember when she dumps sweet Charley to go out with dreamy Doug Simpson? Yes, yes, it’s the famous “Oh, my nose!” episode, and when Doug backs out of their date after seeing Marcia’s swollen nose, she gets a taste of her own medicine, and learns from it. When her nose heals and Doug comes crawling back, she sends him running, then tells Charley the truth about what she did, and apologizes—and happily goes out on a date with him.
There’s also the time she gets a huge ego after being given the lead in Romeo and Juliet, and gets booted out of the play. When the girl playing Juliet’s mother gets sick, a contrite and humbled Marcia steps in, with a promise to behave herself and do what’s right for the play.
Marcia always knows how to set things right. When she gets in trouble for drawing an unflattering picture of one of her teachers, she accidentally blames it on her friend Jenny Wilton, and uninvites Jenny from her sleepover party. (We all remember that sleepover party, don’t we? Truth or dare? Fake spiders? Itching powder?) When another friend admits the drawing was hers, Marcia immediately tells Carol and Mike that she did something terrible to Jenny, and calls her right away to invite her to the party. Not only that, she forgives the friend who got her in trouble in the first place without missing a beat.
5. She Likes Unconventional Boys
Before Doug Simpson, before Warren Mulaney, there was Harvey Klinger.
6. She Has a Sense of Humor
Remember when Marcia signed up for every club in school, in a desperate attempt to be popular? I know, it’s hard to believe Marcia could feel anything but popular, but there was a time when she didn’t. I know you remember what happened next: She applied to join the Boosters, and the day they came to her house to include her in the club was the same day Peter decided to test out his volcano.
Marcia knows that funny is funny, and doesn’t want to hang around people who don’t.
7. She Has Ethics
Marcia falls in love with her dentist and gives up her own fantasies of being Mrs. Marcia Dentist because he’s already married, and she knows what’s right.
8. She Cares About Other People
While all the kids try to help, it’s Marcia who leads the charge to get Carol’s grandmother, Connie, and Mike’s grandfather, Hank, to fall in love. Things don’t go well at first, but Marcia refuses to give up, and next thing you know, they’re off to Vegas to elope.
9. She Gets to Meet Her Favorite Celebrities
Why wouldn’t I want this for my daughter? I’ve met a few of mine, and it was lovely.
Thanks to Alice, she meets her first big crush, Desi Arnaz, Jr. And a few years later, she gets to have this legendary encounter:
So I’m all for watching The Brady Bunch. I get to relive my childhood, with my amazing daughter at my side, and hopefully she’ll pick up a few things from Marcia along the way, even though she’s still asking to be Cindy for Halloween.
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