Jan was the middle sister in the 1970s TV show The Brady Bunch. The Brady’s themselves were the all too perfect, astroturf loving, all American happy family, and the adventures of the six siblings drove the show’s moral storylines. Middle sister Jan was the one coping with the glasses and the braces, Jan was the one with the invented boyfriend and the insecurities, and Jan was the only one who managed to throw some shade on the sunny Brady life.
Forever compared to her perfect older sister Marcia, Jan was instead teased about her glasses, not given full credit for her ideas, and even toyed with the ideas of re-invention, something Marcia would never do, because she was perfect already. Jan was the square peg in the round hole, the rebel Brady, the crack in the veneer, and quietly and perhaps unintentionally, Jan became a sort of counter cultural cipher. With her fallibility, Jan the under-dog in her own clumsy Brady way, somehow came to symbolise the revolution.
Fast forward to 1988, and Jan fan, Erin Smith, along with her brother Don, wrote and published the fanzine Teenage Gang Debs. The fanzine was dedicated to 1970s TV culture along with articles about more contemporary independent bands. TGDs style was very reminiscent of the early Punk fanzines, using cut up illustrations, Letraset, and typewriting, which was then and Xeroxed and stapled. Erin wrote articles dissecting Jan’s role in the Brady episodes and towards the back of one of our own pgd copies, there lurks an interview with the Lunachicks who had themselves just released a song titled “Jan Brady”.
TGD – How did you write the classic “Jan Brady”?
Theo – I was sitting in health class in High School, and I had the Jan Brady hairstyle, and I just said “ I am Jan Brady”.
After 5 issues of TGDs, Erin together with fellow zinesters Allison Wolfe and Molly Neuman formed the band Bratmobile who were there for the great Riot Grrrl charge of 1994. Riot Grrrl was not Brady, but it was, somehow Jan.
Jan is no longer the silent and forgotten Brady, and 40 years since the original series aired, the cult of Jan continues. Jan was portrayed in a more exaggerated fashion in the 1990s Brady Bunch movie. The excellent Jennifer Elise Cox took inspiration from Jan’s original character played by actress Eve Plumb, but played her in the way we always wanted her to be; more feisty, more “positively goofy”, more sulky, more questioning, more singular and a bit more of a rebel. We are all Jan Brady now.