Romer: Which sitcom family should our valley emulate?
Do we want to be “The Brady Bunch” or “Modern Family?”
“The Brady Bunch” is considered one of the last of the “old-style” family sitcoms. While the series was never a critical success or hit series during its original run, it has since become a popular staple in syndication.
“The Brady Bunch” has resonated in pop culture all these years with a focus on typical preteen and teenaged adjustments such as sibling rivalry, puppy love, self-image, character building, and responsibility. It intentionally avoided political commentary and big national issues, and yet has endured as a beloved sitcom.
“The Brady Bunch” can be summed up as “nostalgia for a time that never was.” The show didn’t address topical issues such as the Vietnam War or anything that couldn’t be wrapped up in a 22-minute episode.
“Modern Family,” on the other hand, revolves around three different types of families (nuclear, step- and same-sex). “Modern Family” has won 22 Primetime Emmy Awards (from 75 nominations). The show also received a GLSEN Respect Award for its portrayal of “positive images and storylines that reflect a diverse America, including the depiction of a family headed by a gay couple.”
“Modern Family” has resonated in pop culture as the show focuses on family dynamics across multiple generations across three interconnected families dealing with the challenges of life in today’s society.
Quite the opposite of “The Brady Bunch,” “Modern Family” addresses topical issues including gay marriage, multi-generational families, and mixed-race couples in an attempt to portray a more “modern” approach to family.
The question before us is, as Eagle County continues to face issues surrounding growth and development, do we want to be “The Brady Bunch” or do we want to be “Modern Family?”
Nostalgia: The Brady Bunch only portrays a Caucasian family and on the rare occasion that another race was incorporated they usually did not talk or play a part of the plot of the episode.
“The Brady Bunch” philosophy: Our communities should avoid new developments and should make regulatory approval onerous to developers in an attempt to recapture how “great” things were years ago.
Reality: “Modern Family” is interracial and multi-generational. One of the central characters, Gloria, is from Columbia and Mitchell and Cam (a married gay couple) adopted an Asian baby.
“Modern Family” philosophy: Our communities should embrace infill density and continue to find business-friendly solutions to help developers find a way to “yes.” This requires working with landowners, elected officials, developers, the general public, and others to help find a solution.
Nostalgia: throughout “The Brady Bunch” we see Carol as the stay-at-home mom and their maid, Alice, does all the cooking and cleaning around the household.
“The Brady Bunch” philosophy: Things were great before everyone else moved to Eagle County. We need to stop all new developments to recapture the quality of life that brought us here.
Reality: “Modern Family” is less focused on tradition and more focused on real issues such as sexuality, family dysfunction, and technology; they seek to preserve the ideal of the family — conflicted but functioning.
“Modern Family” philosophy: Communities need to focus on how we function internally to build an environment where people and businesses can grow and succeed. We need to recognize that things are not always wrapped up nicely in a bow, but rather require compromise and collaboration.
Do we want to be a community comparable to “The Brady Bunch,” focused on nostalgia, growing stagnant and old? Or would we rather be a “Modern Family” community, embracing the present and looking forward to the future?
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.