In the summer of 2018, Lance Bass won the bid to buy the iconic ranch house that served as the exterior for the Brady Bunch’s abode. Bass ultimately lost his bid to forces larger than us all: HGTV, a corporate entity with deep pockets who snatched Bass’s dream up from under him in favor of one of its very own. The result of this transgression is A Very Brady Renovation, a strange four-part television series that assumes viewers care about a bunch of former child actors renovating their “childhood” home.
Nostalgia is a valuable commodity, but there is something objectionable and utterly confusing about the task the Brady children are faced with at the show’s start: instead of updating the house’s existing interior, the deranged producer of this program insists that the renovations must replicate the interior of the Brady Bunch house as it was seen on television. This is an ask that essentially serves as the show’s central conflict: the Brady Bunch house is too small. The interiors as seen on television wont fit within the existing framework. This thin premise, which the network is treating with an undeserved amount of fanfare, is not enough to support four hours of scripted home renovation television.
“If we do not get all six Brady cast members, it will be devastating for this production,” a producer intones somewhere near the top of the episode. It is never entirely clear to me why the Brady kids, who are now a group of adults who are not related to each other, are necessary to this endeavor. Their purpose becomes clearer as the show progresses—their memories of the home are central to this unnecessary work, and so they will be put to work thusly. Never mind that the Brady Bunch has been in syndication for years and that images of the interiors exist in spades; HGTV is hoping that the presence of the Brady children will activate some sort of nostalgia for someone somewhere. I am sure the stars of this sitcom are grateful for the work. However, HGTV’s marquee stars—many of whom are featured on this series—were probably less enthusiastic.
The show is helmed by the Property Brothers and features a handful of HGTV”s biggest stars, including but not limited to the mother-daughter duo from Good Bones and the siblings Ford of Restored by the Fords. These stars were selected for their skills and will be tasked with helping a bunch of former child actors create a faithful reproduction of their former workplace: a ’70's-era ranch house that previously only existed on a soundstage. One has to wonder if there’s a point. Additionally disappointing is the fact that there will only be one room revealed at a time. In the premiere’s episode, it was the living room, which ends up looking like the original, down to a few prop vases filched from a backlot somewhere in Los Angeles. There’s wall-to-wall carpeting, some old chairs, an exact replica of the dining table, and, most importantly, the iconic staircase which is perhaps the only good thing the renovators did to this house’s interior.
The show banks on reaching a demographic that will be entranced enough by the Brady Bunch’s waning cultural relevance to watch the shining stars of the HGTV family restore a house that they never lived in. With A Very Brady Renovation, there’s nothing to really care about. The exterior of a home beloved on television is not a space that anyone particularly identifies with or cares about. Much like watching this television program, driving past the Brady House would warrant a five minute stop for a photo or two and nothing else.