Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘A Very Brady Christmas’ Was a Successful Start to a Failed Spinoff

‘A Very Brady Christmas’ Was a Successful Start to a Failed Spinoff

In 1988, the Brady family reunited to celebrate the holidays in a film called A Very Brady Christmas. The event was such a hit that creator Sherwood Schwartz decided to turn it into another spinoff series. 

At the time, the movie was the seventh project in The Brady Bunch franchise, which debuted in 1969. Most of the films and series included in the list were failures. Despite the series being one of the most well-respected in classic TV, fans were rarely impressed with revival attempts. But A Very Brady Christmas hit nostalgic hearts perfectly. 

The movie found Mike and Carol planning to take a lavish vacation for Christmas. But when they can’t come to an agreement on where to go, they decide to use the money to fly their entire family—including children, grandchildren, and in-laws—to their home for the holidays instead. What follows is a chaotically packed house and various personal problems. All the original actors returned aside for Susan Olsen, who played Cindy, and Allan Melvin, who played Sam the Butcher. Their roles were recast. 

‘A Very Brady Christmas’ Was the Second Highest-Rated Television Film of the Year 

After airing on December 18, 1988, the movie became the highest-rated television film of the year. By the close of 1988, it stood in second place. Its massive audience led Schwartz and CBS to assume that the thirty-something crowd was interested in seeing their favorite childhood characters raise children of their own. But they assumed wrong. 

The Bradys premiered in 1990. The drama followed the same plot as A Very Brady Christmas by turning Mike and Carol’s house into a multigenerational home, with kids and grandchildren moving in. Episodes featured more serious issues than the OG show, and they lasted an hour each. Schwartz was attempting to capitalize on the newly-popular primetime soap opera trend, and he failed. 

The spinoff began with a six-episode commitment—and six episodes is all it got. CBS attempted to run the series during TGIF, which featured light-hearted comedies like Full House and Family Matters, which were geared toward children. So The Bradys tanked in ratings, and the network promptly pulled it. 

That was the last time Schwartz attempted to revive the original show, but the franchise did continue. In 1995 and 1996, the satirical The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequal hit theaters with major success.