Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice.
Are you a whore or are you a lady?
Is it Erica Boyer or Marcia Brady?
--House of Pain, "Shamrocks and Shenanigans"
Shortly before this book hit the stands, the press and the Net were abuzz with a rumour that it contained Shocking DetailsTM of a teen lesbian tryst between Maureen "Marcia Brady" McCormick and Eve "Jan Brady" Plumb. Both McCormick and the publisher denied it, but it's hard not to wonder about its origins, given the role it played in the book's publicity. It also allegedly prevented Another Very Brady Reunion, because Eve Plumb was so ticked about the whole matter. I'll leave you to decide whether preventing Another Very Brady Reunion amounts to a good thing or not.
I'm mentioning this, because if that's the reason you'd read this book, don't bother. It didn't happen and McCormick doesn't write about it.
What she does mention is that Eve Plumb used to traipse nude around the Brady girls dressing room, and that she farted a great deal.
I'm mentioning that, because Maureen McCormick's need to include these two details tells you a great deal about this book. Maybe all you need to know.
Much of it reads like so:
In some ways, there is no hell greater than a once-popular child star in her thirties trying to recapture the sense of purpose that was so intense and clear years earlier. How could so many people come up to me in the stores and on the sidewalk and say they loved me, say they’d always loved me, when I had no such feeling for myself? Why didn’t the right people in Hollywood love me?
I cried myself to sleep most nights.
McCormick comes across as more than a little self-absorbed, and she writes in a pedestrian style that recalls a competent but unimaginative student entering sixth form. Most chapters end with a bit of FORESHADOWING, such as "Neither of us knew it, but I was going to need more than I ever imagined" or "Little did they realize, a star had been born," or "Little did I knew, the nightmare was about to begin."
This particular nightmare begins with McCormick giving her reasons for appearing on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club, other than money and a well-developed need for the spotlight. We then get the expected Brady memories and self-indulgence. This will please those who are obsessed with the show, or who need to know. How'd she get the part? When did she find out Robert Reed was gay? Did she ever do it with screen brother, Barry Williams? How'd she feel about The Partridge Family? Which Brady girl liked to traipse nude around the dressing room? JC, the overweight girl from my old neighbourhood who totally jonesed on the Bunch—she'd probably like this book. Maybe I should look her up on Facebook and recommend it. The rest of you—not so much.
We also see the family dynamics at home, with a sporadically religiously-obsessed father, a mother who feared she would go crazy, and her brothers, one of whom falls aggressively short of Brady standards. In case we miss it later, her brother Kevin gets vilified early on, to set him up for his role later in the book.
She then gets into her out-of-control, former teen star life, which involves two abortions, outstandingly terrible social choices, and copious amounts of cocaine. Her friends called her "Hoover." She also continues to work, though not as much as she would like. Despite documenting in detail the difficulties she created on the post-Brady sets with her drug problems, she largely blames typecasting for her lack of success. She also recounts her involvement in later incarnations of the show, including the hilariously bad The Brady Bunch Hour.
Accounts of her later life, marriage and her daughter and like that, initially remind me of a blog. Pedestrian and cliché-ridden, they nonetheless would be genuinely interesting to someone who knows her. I don't.
The book ends with material that might actually make for a gripping story. Her mother dies of cancer, as both her parents fall under control of her eeevil crazy brother. Her developmentally challenged brother doesn't understand what's going on, while her good brother works with her to try and offset the damage. There's some seriously screwy family dynamics going on here (whatever the truth may be), and they're not very Brady. McCormick can relate her version of the story, and she certainly recognizes the IRONY of Marcia Marcia Marcia belonging to such a fucked-up family. What she cannot do is arrange or relate this information in a way that makes it especially compelling.
All of this, doubtless, raises some questions. I shall endeavor to answer them:
So why should I read this book?
Unless you're really into The Bradys or celebrity memoirs, you probably shouldn't.
So why did you read this book?
I got a free copy at a book exchange and thought it would fill a few hours. Coincidentally, I had a few hours to fill. Morbid curiosity also played its part.
You've been kind of harsh. What is the best thing about the book?
The last person to read it used an old photograph for a book-mark. It shows this enigmatic couple, a middle-aged man and a younger woman, maybe his daughter in what appears to be a school gymnasium, likely in the last century. She's better dressed. They're laughing at each other. Some sort of event's going on, and someone's holding blue and white balloons. It's a cool photo.
I'm keeping that photo. There's a story here, mates.