So, regarding the intro with the tic tac toe squares with each character in the box – why is Florence Henderson in the top box above Ralph Reed? At one point he looks up and she looks down almost as if he is worshiping and her glance is almost angelic in bestowing grace upon him. Was this a early feminist inspired concession to signal a minor break from the traditional nuclear family (actually, there’s not much “traditional” about the nuclear family – it’s a fairly recent phenomenon in history) in undercutting the image of contextual male authority, or is the female image simply put upon the pedestal as a tribute to the anti-feminist notion that women are actually morally superior if intellectually weaker because they are too good for the world and it’s the man’s job to handle the drudgery of worldly concerns. It was originally used against suffrage, that women should not be expected to demean themselves with political concerns. This was the explanation I heard by a John Birch Society advocate explaining a bumper sticker they were selling calling for the repeal of the 19th Amendment on the basis that “you can’t fool Mother Nature.”
I’m told that the Brady Bunch represented a “liberal turn” from the 50s nuclear family-based television offerings such as Leave it to Beaver and The Donna Reed Show, but Ralph Reed’s character does seem to be the ultimate authority in the plot lines, so if they were trying to break from the mold they didn’t get very far.
On the other hand, there is a kind of liberal aura to the plot lines in this family’s dealings with the outside world – nobody is truly evil, and most conflict is the product of misunderstanding rather than malice, and even where there are hints of malice from outside characters, those characters are really just the products of their environment. The show certainly did not paint a picture of a fallen sinful world. It was always about the power of reason and compassion to govern human affairs ultimately. Punishments were always correctional in nature, and there were no villains (not even the guy who played Howell on Gilligan’s Island who tried to push the evil pool table on the family).
Anyway, back to the tic tac toe square positioning – feminist progress, or putting women on a pedestal?
Addendum: Okay, for some reason people keep clicking on the picture above. Are you expecting the video? Here you go.