The Brady Bunch as the Jungian Psyche


[I apparently posted this on Facebook back on May 8, 2010. I’d completely forgotten it, until a friend “liked” it. Here it is…]

Okay, in response to the scholarly paper on Gilligan’s Island that I linked to on my wall, here is a brief examination of Sherwood Schwartz’s other glimpse into the American psyche.

“Till the one day when the lady met this fellow…”

If we look at the Brady family as a single psyche — one “bunch”, a singular noun for a collective group — then it’s clear that Mr. and Mrs. Brady form the Syzygy — the Anima-Animus, the “divine couple” that rules the family. Mike Brady is the architect and Carol the stay-at-home mother.

Greg — Ego. He has his own room “in the attic”, separate from the rest of the family. When this disconnection from his roots, from his animal nature, becomes too much, he smuggles a goat into his attic — his “mascot” — to attempt to reclaim a connection.

Marcia — Persona. She’s the popular girl, but is actually insecure.

Peter — The Sensation type, as signaled in his mantra “porkchops and applesauce.” Also, it is his football that bruises Marcia’s nose, a stark reminder of the power of the personality types to shake up the Persona.

Jan — The Feeling type, as signaled most memorably through her jealousy of Marcia (“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”). (This might at first seem to be the sign of an inferior feeling function, but it is actually Jan’s superior feeling function railing against the Persona, who gets all the attention.)

Bobby — The Thinking type, as evinced by his role as safety monitor at his school, as well as his daydreaming.

Cindy — The Intuitive type, because she’s a snoop, a spy and a tattle-tale.

Bobby and Cindy, as the youngest, are the most undeveloped of the functions — the “inferior” functions. A trip to the desert of the arid American imagination resulted in their getting lost (see The Shadow, below), requiring the Anima and Animus to go forth crying for them: “Bobby! Cindy!”

Alice — The faithful maid is a personification of the Wise Old Man archetype, although sometimes she seems like the Earth Mother — always providing. She is a problem-solver, always able to get to the “meat of the matter” (thanks to her helpmate, Sam the butcher).

The Shadow — The archetype of the Shadow is outside the family, often threatening its members, as iconically played by Vincent Price when the family visits Hawaii, and Jim Backus when they go to the desert.

Totem Animal — The family lost its totem animal, Tiger the dog, early on and he was not replaced. Hence, the Ego’s feeling of loss and compensation by later trying to bring a goat into the attic. The producer’s finally attempted to rectified this loss — unsuccessfully — by introducing Cousin Oliver, the Trickster. The fault for the later Brady Bunch variety show can only be due to the angered Trickster, who lasted only 6 episodes.

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