Friday, October 4, 2019

After A Very Brady Renovation, What’s Next?

One of the most famous lines of modern literature belongs to Thomas Wolfe: “You can’t go home again.”

The Brady kids respond, “Oh, really?”

No other television show this year – current, classic or Comfort – gave me more pure viewing pleasure than A Very Brady Renovation on HGTV.

Each of its four episodes was a sugar rush of the sweetest kind of nostalgia. It also exemplified everything this blog has been about since its inception in 2012: celebrating that pull we feel from the shows we loved growing up, and how familiar they have become, right down to their smallest details. How they brought joy into our lives even during troubled times.

It acknowledges, even if it doesn’t fully understand why, that this 50 year-old series that never ranked among TV’s highest rated or most honored shows has become both significant and beloved, beyond any expectations anyone involved with its creation could have dreamed.

Why else would so many people take so seriously this quest to recreate a home that never existed? Why did it matter that the angle of the staircase was precise, or that the chairs in the kitchen were painted the perfect shade of avocado?

The entire project was a completely impractical thing to do, requiring thousands of hours and millions of dollars. But seeing the results, it feels like time and money well spent. I only wish that all of us who love the show would have an opportunity to visit this treasured TV Land artifact that now, most improbably, actually exists in our mundane real world. 

So, what’s next?

Will this be a one-off experiment in relocating TV land to reality land? Or will the response and ratings this series received inspire similar attempts? And if it does, what other shows would be considered?

We all have personal favorites and I’m sure a survey would bring a wide range of choices, from the Long Branch Saloon to the Monkees’ beachfront pad to the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. 

But for enduring, cross-generational appeal, it’s difficult to find one that would be equivalent to the Brady residence. 

In reviewing my mental rolodex of classic shows, I eliminated those broadcast in black and white, because seeing those sets in color feels more odd than familiar. 

 What’s left? Perhaps the apartments shown on Friends, which has exhibited impressive staying power 25 years after its debut. But it debuted in 1994, so it’s outside the Comfort TV era. 

I thought about the Morning Glory Circle home of Samantha and Darrin Stephens, as like the Brady home every room was utilized often enough for viewers to become familiar with its features. But the décor changed regularly throughout its run, to the point where it would be hard to satisfy fans with one definitive version of the Bewitched house. 

So I’d say there’s just one other choice – the studio apartment inside a Queen Anne Victorian building, occupied for five seasons by Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show

I’m not an architect like Mike Brady so I don’t know what renovations would be necessary to fit that space within the existing structure, but the good news is that there’s only one room, so the makeover should be easier. Of course, I’d demand the same level of exacting detail that HGTV lavished on the Brady house, from the Palladian windows to the high, vaulted ceilings, to the sliding stained glass window divider that hides the kitchen. 

Will it happen? Probably not. The Brady home seems to occupy a unique space in our television viewing memories. We may see more attempts to bring classic shows back in some capacity, like the recent remakes of All in the Family and Jeffersons episodes, but I don’t foresee another large scale, multi-million dollar project like A Very Brady Renovation.

There has, unfortunately, been one regrettable postscript to that delightful series. A friend of mine drove by the home the other day, and was sad to see it is now surrounded by a high, ugly chain link fence, with prominent warning signs about trespassing and violators being prosecuted. I think HGTV should have foreseen the interest in the property that would result, and come up with a more aesthetically appropriate safeguard. Now, it’s like they created a perfect reproduction of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, and then drew a mustache on it on the way out the door. 


  1. Sadly, Robert Reed and Florence Henderson are no longer with us. Florence died just days after appearing on "Dancing with the Stars" in support of Maureen McCormick. Considering the circumstances surrounding Robert's death, I imagine that a future episode of the Reelz TV series "Autopsy: The Last Hours of..." will profile him. May Robert Reed and Florence Henderson rest in peace.

  2. I just watched the final episode, which I recorded Monday night, and it was fun to watch them recreate the house that never really existed. There is supposed to be an after show this coming Monday night then later a Christmas party (though I don't know how that will be taped if there's a chain link fence surrounding the house now.

    I live not too far from the model for Southfork Ranch, which is where the fictional Ewings of DALLAS lived. That place has a lot more property surrounding it, and I heard some years back that someone could rent the entire Ewing house and stay a night for $3500 or so. The problem with the Brady house location is that it's in a real neighborhood, with neighbors that I'm sure don't want a hotel of sorts nearby.

    I have no idea what HGTV plans to do with the house now, but maybe it can be picked up & moved to a new location with more space, as the original Brady house was during the run of THE BRADYS.

  3. Loved the first episode, but behind on the rest. Would be cool to do another show! And the crew of The Conners had to sort of do this, recreate the home from the old show. Sara Gilbert talked about almost getting the original couch, but the new owner of it wanted too many restrictions. I for one would love to see the Bewitched house, but I think that current audience maybe too little to warrant a show.

  4. FYI you can visit the Starship Enterprise in Ticonderoga, NY:

    Went last year and it was great!

  5. Count me in as one of the Brady fans who loved this 4-part series on HGTV (and the wonderful after-shows on Youtube) with a lot of happiness!

    Er... you do know there was a 5th "bonus" HGTV episode (featuring the Brady Brides husbands) and an upcoming 6th one as well?

    FYI, I grew up in a similar family of 6 kids, 3 brothers, 3 sisters. (I'd be Peter in that hierarchy.) The night the Brady Bunch premiered in Sept 1969, my mom turned to my dad & said "Who do they think is going to watch this sh-t?" Six kids sprawled on the livingroom floor in front of our new Zenith Colormatic console, that's who! :)