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July 18th, 2018 by Proprietor
One of the big questions that arose in the creation of the Brady Bunch, was the necessity of Alice. The creators had debated allowing Alice to stay around for more than the first season, even the first few episodes. Granted, when it was just Mike and the boys, Alice was necessary. Mike needed someone to take care of the boys while he worked as an architect for a demanding, possibly lethal boss.
When Mike met Carol, the creators speculated that Carol could possibly deal with all the six kids on her own. Why would the Brady Bunch need Alice, besides being a place holder in the opening credits? There had been talk about phasing Alice out, but Ann B. Davis was such a talented comedic actress, the producers wanted to keep her. The producers also rationalized that even though Carol was a stay at home mom, with six children, a housekeeper was someone the Brady family would need.
There were several episodes in season one, and even in season two, where Alice debated leaving or was made to feel that she was not needed. The first such episode in which Alice debates leaving was “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore“, Season 1, Episode 4. Interestingly a movie by the same title, starring Ellen Burstyn and Kris Kristofferson came out in 1974. This inspired the television show Alice starting Linda Lavin. So the Brady Bunch ultimately had far reaching consequences to the movie and television industry.
The Episode opens with Bobby crying for Alice and limping into the kitchen. Bobby has scraped his knee again, and Alice immediately moves to take care of him. Carol enters having heard Bobby’s crying and sees the scraped knee. Like any mother, she offers to help, but Bobby protests. Carol leaves disappointed, Alice seeing this dresses Bobby down about how Carol is much prettier, and Bobby would get a better deal from his mother. Besides, Alice is too busy cooking dinner. Bobby runs off to find his mother whom is overjoyed to help her new son.
Then Peter and Greg come in excited about something, and tell Alice, but she tells them to go to Carol. Greg and Peter go to Carol and informer of their great news. Carol is excited and informs Mike of the turn in the boy’s attitude. Mike is happy, and tells Carol the boys would eventually come around to accepting her as their mother. Unfortunately this sudden burst of extra attention to the boys causes concern amongst the girls. The girls summon Carol into their room for a talk.
Given that Bobby was at most eight when the show started, and though it is unclear when Alice was hired or for how long she worked for Mike, there are some hints. Alice has been fixing the boy’s bumps and bruises since Bobby was a little squirt. Assuming that Peter and Greg do not mean Bobby was six, it is safe to guess that Bobby was at least four when the first Mrs. Brady passed, and Mike hired Alice. Carol in explaining to the girls that it has been a long time since Greg, Peter, and Bobby have had a mother does somewhat confirm this. Mike more than likely spent at least a year morning the loss of his first wife. He might have tried dating, but not aggressively. Then Mike met Carol, and they knew something was special. A year of dating, and a year for engagement. It is also unclear if Mike and Carol introduced the boys to the girls before the wedding. Though there is indication that they were familiar with each other.
The real turning point in the episode was when a package arrived for the boys. Alice receives it from the mailman, and suspects it is the telescope they had sent away for. The boys grab the package, and rather than open it with Alice, run upstairs to show Carol. Alice is both saddened and somewhat happy at her handiwork, except the sad part gets to her. Alice decides to quit. Her excuse is her great aunt in Seattle is going down hill. Yet, Alice does not keep the excuse consistent. The Brady’s suspect something is up.
Mike and Carol discuss the situation, and Mike thinks it is due to all the extra work. The family has doubled, and Alice has not been paid accordingly. Alice insists it is not that, and it is a personal matter. Marcia is returning home from school, and overhears Alice talking to one of her friends on the phone. Alice is lying about the whole reason. Marcia gets Carol, and informs her about what she overheard.
The Brady’s come up with a massive plan to make Alice understand that she is loved and wanted, as well as needed. Seems like the Brady’s always come up with some massive playacting event. On Alice’s last day, Mike and Carol have to go to a banquet, pick up Greg, and take Marcia to a meeting. Then everything falls apart last minute. Alice calms everyone down, and then tells Mike and Carol she knew what they were doing. At first she thought things had gone normally crazy, but when Mike’s tux was ruined, Alice knew she was being fooled. Alice agrees to stay on. Since Mike and Carol are already dressed up to go out, Alice advises that they go have a night out, while she takes care of the kids.
It is puzzling that the Brady’s did not talk to Alice when they knew she was lying. Mike has always been the Actions speak louder than words type guy. This is why the Brady’s always take over the top actions. It is good for comedy.
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