The television sitcom The Brady Bunch (1969–1974) and its subsequent reruns presented upper-middle-class whiteness and a version of idealized family life as normative. Its underrepresentation of racial, ethnic, and class differences did more than serve as a form of escapism for young Latina/o television watchers—it impacted their sense of identity and self-esteem, their attitudes toward their own parents, and their own later modes of parenting, as the author’s personal experience illustrates. At the same time, the series’ few episodes that did depict minority characters encouraged stereotyping that influenced the larger population. A content and visual analysis of episodes of The Brady Bunch confirms the sitcom’s repeated themes of gender and sexuality and its near absence of focus on differences of race, ethnicity, and class.
Coming Home to The Brady Bunch: In Search of Latina/o Identity
Miroslava Chávez-García is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara and holds affiliations in the Departments of Chicana/o Studies and Feminist Studies. Author of Negotiating Conquest: Gender and Power in California, 1770s to 1880s (Tucson, 2004) and States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California’s Juvenile Justice System (Berkeley, 2012), Miroslava’s most recent book, Migrant Longing: Letter Writing across the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (Chapel Hill, 2018), is a history of migration, courtship, and identity as told through more than 300 personal letters exchanged across the U.S.-Mexico borderlands among family members and friends. In 2019, she received the Barbara “Penny” Kanner Award prize from the Western Association of Women’s Historians for Migrant Longing. She teaches courses on Chicana/o history, immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border, and juvenile justice, among others.
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Miroslava Chávez-García; Coming Home to The Brady Bunch: In Search of Latina/o Identity. Southern California Quarterly 1 November 2019; 101 (4): 430–460. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/scq.2019.101.4.430
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