NPR reports that Marcia Brady is pissed. Not because Jan borrowed her sweater without asking, or read her diary (stay away from her things, Jan!) but because of an actually very serious and important issue: vaccinations. It seems strange that The Brady Bunch would somehow collide with the controversial (is it?) issue of preventing your children from getting dangerous infectious diseases, but here we are. Donald Trump is still President and The Brady Bunch is being used as a medical reference point. 2019 is doing it.
America is currently suffering its biggest measles outbreak since the disease was declared “eliminated” back in the year 2000. Well, since rich, white, organic, yoga parents refuse to vaccinate their kids since their opinion leaders Jenny McCarthy and Kristin Cavallari told them not to, measles is back, baby! And it is coming hard! There are currently a reported 695 cases over 22 states. And you know what? You shouldn’t care! Sure measles is measles and can also cause other problems for you later in life like being permanently deaf or your brain suddenly swelling but it’s a riot. So says this episode of The Brady Bunch.
In the episode “Is There A Doctor In The House?”, the Brady family comes down with measles. Everyone has it! And it’s so fun! Peter stays home and chills. Sure he has “a slight temperature” and “a lot of dots” but you know what else he has? “A great big smile!” Measles is the same as a snow day: almost extinct in 2019 due to human intervention (global warming). Marcia says, “If you have to get sick, sure can’t beat the measles!”
You’d think this would be just an episode of an old show, but it’s so much more than that. It is educational material. Dr. (is she?) Toni Bark–who regularly testifies against vaccines in courts and public hearings–says that this episode is vindication of anti-vaxxers. Look how we used to view measles! It’s harmless! She says:
“You stayed home like the Brady Bunch show. You stayed home. You didn’t go to the doctor… We never said, ‘Oh my God, your kid could die. Oh my God, this is a deadly disease.’ It’s become that.”
Another anti-vaxxer, Del Bigtree, who produces a YouTube show critical of vaccines and even made a movie about it, also uses this episode to prove vaccines are trash:
“We were all giggling and laughing because the whole family in the Brady Bunch got the measles… Where is the sitcom that joked about dying from AIDS or joked about dying from cancer?”
Elena Conis, an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in medical history, has an explanation for the change in measles’ narrative:
“In 1969, we had less control over infectious diseases… Smallpox was still a reality. There were far more cases of polio. In that context, it made sense to think of measles as a lesser threat… [After the vaccine was developed] They were saying, ‘Well, hold on. There’s this rate of complications; there’s this number of hospitalizations; there’s this number of deaths. We really have to shift our thinking about the threat that measles poses.’“
You know else who thinks that it’s insane to use an episode of The Brady Bunch to prove that the measles vaccine is pointless? I mean other than everyone with a rational intelligence? Maureen McCormick who played Marcia.
Maureen found out recently that an anti-vaccination Facebook group was using her picture in memes with measles from that episode, and Maureen is pissed. She told NPR:
“I was really concerned with that and wanted to get to the bottom of that, because I was never contacted… I think it’s really wrong when people use people’s images today to promote whatever they want to promote and the person’s image they’re using they haven’t asked or they have no idea where they stand on the issue… As a mother, my daughter was vaccinated.”
You tell ’em, Maureen! Get your lawyers! Sue somebody! And Maureen isn’t done, she isn’t just telling you she got her kids vaccinated, she did so because she also had measles her damn self and it was not as fun as she pretended it was on The Brady Bunch:
“Having the measles was not a fun thing… I remember it spread through my family.”
So there you go: The Brady Bunch doesn’t know you anti-vaxxers and they don’t want to. And if you’re using a comedy series from 1969 as factual evidence to prove a medical theory, I’ve got to say: maybe I could go to med school? Like, have they lowered entry requirements recently? I’ve watched Grey’s Anatomy since ninth-grade, so I think my medical knowledge is a little more developed than The Brady Bunch, thankyouverymuch. Where can I apply?