‘The Brady Bunch’: 1 Story Line Was Scratched for Being Too Taboo at the Time

It’s been over 50 years since The Brady Bunch hit the airwaves. Although it was never a huge hit during the years it was on the air, the show remains a fan favorite to this day. Many things have changed over the last five decades, and naturally, what we consider taboo today is a little different from what people thought was wrong in 1969. Read on to find out about which storyline that the show’s producers nixed for being too shocking for prime-time television.

A new kind of family for television

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Considerable explains that September 1969 marked the beginning of the popular sitcom. In an unusual twist, the pilot episode started the story with one couple’s happily-ever-after.

It showed the wedding of Mike Brady and Carol Martin. The happy couple brought a total of six children into the marriage; Carol’s three tow-headed daughters and Mike’s three dark-haired boys. 

In that first episode, the wedding celebrations quickly descend into chaos when the boys’ dog, Tiger, chases the girls’ cat, Fluffy. During the pursuit, the animals leap onto a table and the wedding cake is knocked over, into the laps of Mike and Carol.

The scene set the tone for the show’s entire run — a lighthearted comedy about this lively family’s adventures and quickly-solved problems, complete with plenty of physical humor. The newlywed Bradys and their blended bunch were about to make their way into the hearts of America. 

‘The Brady Bunch’ had a large, ensemble cast

Cast of 'The Brady Bunch' | Robert Reed. Florence Henderson, Ann B. Davis, Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Christopher Knight, Eve Plumb, Mike Lookinland, and Susan Olsen
Cast of ‘The Brady Bunch’ | Robert Reed, Florence Henderson, Ann B. Davis, Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Christopher Knight, Eve Plumb, Mike Lookinland, and Susan Olsen | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

According to Good Housekeeping, Florence Henderson played Carol, the always-cheerful mother of the family, while Robert Reed played Mike, the wise patriarch. The oldest girl was Marcia (Maureen McCormick), and the oldest boy was Greg (Barry Williams). Although the pair’s relationship was very sibling-like on the show, it was a different story when the cameras weren’t rolling. 

Jan (Eve Plumb) was the famous middle child of the girls, who often felt overshadowed by Marcia. The middle boy was Peter (Christopher Knight). Then came the adorable babies of the family, curly-haired Cindy (Susan Olson), and charming, freckle-faced Bobby (Mike Lookinland). Ann B. Davis rounded out the cast, playing the wisecracking housekeeper, Alice. 

The next five years mined these many relationships for all the humor and touching moments they possibly could. But one detail was left out of the story the whole time; exactly what had happened to Carol’s first husband. 

A taboo storyline got left behind

It was made clear early on that Mike was a widower, but Carol’s past wasn’t so well-defined. According to Mental Floss, that’s because the original backstory for Carol was a tale that primetime television wasn’t quite ready for. 

The plan had been for Carol to have gone through a divorce. Although that would be a logical explanation for how a woman could become a single mom today, in the ’60s it was still considered too shocking for a family show. 

Instead, Carol’s past was simply never discussed. The show’s writers simply left it a mystery. Of course, that didn’t stop people from wondering about it. After decades of fielding questions about Carol’s first husband, Henderson started joking that her character had killed him. 

Of course, if a divorcee was too shocking for a ’60s sitcom then it’s obvious that a widow who had murdered her husband wouldn’t have been a sympathetic character either. Fortunately, the show’s writers simply let the topic melt into the background. The resulting family has become an enduring part of American television history, and fans wouldn’t have it any other way.