Though it’s been going on for several years, one episode of The Brady Bunch continues to be propped-up as “evidence” by anti-vaxers that measles isn’t a serious, and deadly problem. Recently, the 59-year-old actress who played Marcia Brady — Maureen McCormick — made it clear that she, a former Brady, is not cool with anti-vaxers. It’s really wrong when people use people’s images today to promote whatever they want to promote and the person’s image they’re using they haven’t asked or they have no idea where they stand on the issue.”
But how did this all start? And what is this Brady Bunch measles episode really like? Let’s get into it.
Because anti-vaccine activists lack evidence backed by science suggesting that immunization puts kids at risks, the movement (such as it is) has embraced anecdotal argumentation. Jenny McCarthy, for instance, feels that a vaccine gave her son autism. Okay! But even the gelatin emulsion-thin logic of the Scary Movie 3 star looks like the thrilling close of an Oxford Union debate when contrasted with the arguments of anti-vaxxers who cite the 13th episode of The Brady Brunch, “Is There a Doctor In the House?”, as evidence that life was just fine before MMR vaccinations. The show, which first aired in 1969, sees six Brady brats come down with the measles. Then Cindy Brady died of brain swelling. Just kidding, it works out fine for everyone.
The episode is, to put it fairly mildly, deeply crazy as a piece of art and even crazier as a cultural artifact that has retained relevance despite the progression of medical science.
The measles vaccine was developed in 1963, and become relatively mainstream around 1968. Meaning, in 1969, The Brady Bunch had an opportunity to provide a public service and advocate for immunization. That is not at all what happened. The Bradys do not discuss vaccination at any point. They are not against it. They just act as though it’s not an option. The timing is such that this doesn’t feel retro, it feels less like the show is stuck in the 1960s than that it is stuck in an alternate dimension.
Instead, the plot of the episode isn’t about measles at all; the primary conflict is all about whether or not a pediatrician who is a woman can take care of boys and if a pediatrician who is a man can take care of girls. Mom Brady and Dad Brady each call separate pediatricians, with Dad Brady’s views being predictably more sexist and less-progressive than his wife’s. The “laughs” in the episode are mostly about Mike Brady being a chauvinist and the girls being uncomfortable. At one point, young Jan tells the male pediatrician, to “keep your distance.” It was a solid molestation joke.(This is the part of the article where readers may remember their experiences with The Brady Bunch and that it was a bad…
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