Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book Review: Here's The Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice, by Maureen McCormick

It's hard to believe that Maureen McCormick only played "Marcia Brady" on The Brady Bunch for five years. The Brady Bunch has become such a part of pop culture that it seems as if the series ran for much longer (syndication will do that, I guess).

Although each of the child actors and actresses who portrayed the Brady kids became closely identified with his or her character, America (and a good deal of Hollywood) seems to find it most difficult to separate Maureen McCormick from Marcia Brady. Hence the rationale for writing this book. Life in the Brady household was picture-perfect ... and whatever problems or crises erupted were easily solved within the episode. And nobody was more perfect and more idolized than Marcia.

Here's the Story gives a backstage look at McCormick's life before, during, and especially after starring on The Brady Bunch. Much of the publicity surrounding the book's release centered on the juicy tidbits she reveals within: the confirmation of her romance with Barry Williams, who played big brother Greg; the wild parties at the Playboy Mansion; the dates with Steve Martin and Michael Jackson. While I initially picked up this book because of these nuggets, that's not what the book is about.

Judging people on what we pereceive them to be is a recurrent theme throughout the book. As a young girl, McCormick's father lectures his offspring around the kitchen table about judging others - a bitter irony in so many respects, particularly in regards to McCormick's parents' relationship, her own relationship with her mother, her view of herself, and of course, America's view of how life must be for Marcia/Maureen. She writes poignantly about her brother Denny, who is intellectually handicapped, and the harsh judgement that is inflicted on him by her friends who weren't allowed to stay overnight (for fears that Denny could be get violent) or when he hears people calling him a "retard" and asks his sister what that means. On a personal level, I would have liked to have read more of her experience and thoughts on having a sibling with special needs, but that's not what the book is about.

Ultimately, this is a book about the process of accepting yourself for who you truly are - not who or what society dictates that you are, even if you are Marcia Brady. Here's the Story is a fast read, made such because a good deal of the writing tends to stray into cliches and banality with frequent uses of "cool" and "hot." At times it seems as if Marcia herself is writing this memoir, especially when reading such passages as this, when discussing her romance with co-star Barry Williams.

There was so much electricity between us that I felt the hair on my arms stand up every time we got close to each other on the set. I thought about Barry even when I had scenes with other guys. I used to ask myself how I could ever look in eyes other than his liquid blues and feel such love.

Gag me with a spoon, for sure.

The most gripping parts of this book comes in the last several chapters. The reader feels McCormick's pain as she discusses her mother's death and the family dynamics playing out in the aftermath. Unlike on a sit-com, there's no easy resolution to these messy and emotionally painful issues.

I liked this book more than I thought I would, and give it 3.5 stars (out of 5). Would recommend reading if you're a Brady Bunch fan, but moreso as an interesting read about the struggle for self-acceptance on all levels.

1 comment:

gail elle said...

I was going to read this, then decided that the Brady Bunch has been ruined enough for me as it is!