RuPaul is clearly a big Brady Bunch fan — Ru even had cameos in both of the ’90s Brady movies, playing the kids’ Westdale High guidance counselor, Mrs. Cummings. So, when the folks at RuPaul’s Drag Race approached Barry “Greg Brady” Williams and Eve “Jan Brady” Plumb about appearing in “Dragging the Classics: The Brady Bunch,” a new Paramount+ special reenacting one of the iconic ‘70s series’ episodes with a cast of Brady and Drag Race alumni, Plumb was “interested right away.” Williams, however, was hesitant. It was only after the Drag Race powers-that-be agreed to let him play his TV dad, Mike Brady — the role originated by the late Robert Reed, with whom Williams was close — that he signed up.
“I had some reservations, because I didn’t know how they were going to treat the material. I was concerned it could have gone way over-the-top. I was concerned that it could have been condescending. I was concerned that it could have been making fun of the show, as well as the people. And I would not have been interested in a project that did that,” Williams tells Yahoo Entertainment. “I think they really convinced me that they would allow the Brady values, and the sort of sentimentality and the authenticity of the show and what it represents, to come through. And when I was convinced of that, then I was all on board.”
It was Williams himself who came up with the idea for him to play Mike, even if it was admittedly emotional for him to step into the platform shoes — and ‘70s-permed wig — of Reed, who died in 1992. But he explains, “Mike Brady is the center line of the show. … And that was something I wanted to embrace. And I felt that by me playing Mike, I could ensure that that message would be delivered with authenticity and with some grounding. … So, I enjoyed the role.” Williams apparently enjoyed the role so much that he even lapses into character during Yahoo Entertainment’s Brady-square-formatted Zoom interview with Plumb and Drag Race stars Bianca Del Rio and Shea Couleé, delivering one of Mike’s famous “nice lectures” as he authoritatively states: “Now, remember, kids: It’s all for one and one for all.”
“Dragging the Classics” also features Brady Bunch veterans Christopher Knight and Mike Lookinland respectively reprising their roles as Peter and Bobby, but the other participating Brady actors play against type. Besides Williams channeling Mike and also expertly coaching Drag Race Season 6 star BenDeLaCreme in the Greg role (“When he put on that Greg wig, he transformed and looked about eight years younger,” Williams chuckles), Susan “Cindy Brady” Olsen portrays nerdy girl Margie, while Cindy is played by Drag Race Season 13 finalist Kandy Muse. Plumb takes on a supporting role as popular birthday girl Lucy Winters, while Jan is played by current Drag Race All Stars 6 contestant and Season 2 trans trailblazer Kylie Sonique Love. (“I thought she did a great job,” says Plumb. “It’s amazing to see Jan extrapolated into a different size and shape. With the costume and the hair and everything, it all just works.”)
Shea, the winner of All Stars 5, co-stars as arguably the most glamorous Brady, Marcia, a role she seems born to play. “For many drag queens, our confidence a lot of times stems from just, like, a sheer delusion,” she laughs, when asked how she got into “cool older sister” character. And Drag Race Season 6 winner Bianca Del Rio, in perfectly fitted mullet wig, is a standout cosplaying as TV mom Carol Brady, who she says “was my absolute favorite when I watched the show — so glamorous and lovely and, you know, she had the best life. I mean, it’s the life to have. I have a maid that does everything. I don’t have to deal with the kids, and I get to look fashionable. It was so much fun to get to do.”
“Dragging the Bradys” isn’t so much a spoof — as Williams stresses, it’s a loving and respectful tribute, and it literally sticks to the script of 1971’s “Will the Real Jan Brady Stand Up?” episode word for word. Therefore Bianca, a successful comedienne known for her potty-mouth and quite un-Brady-like twisted humor, had to figure out other ways to subtly subvert her scenes. “At the beginning it was awkward, because, you know, there were no literal jokes for me, and it’s not my usual personality,” says Bianca. “So, I did get all of my vulgarity and nastiness out during the breaks. I did feel fulfilled that way!” Viewers are encouraged to stick around for the end credits to see some of those bloopers, but there is a quick canoodling scene between Mike and Carol on the Bradys’ famous earth-toned floral sofa. “Let’s just say that Bianca likes to improvise,” Williams quips.
Plumb says “Will the Real Jen Brady Stand Up?” was the obvious episode to get the Drag Race treatment because “it’s all about a wig!” But it seems that the possibilities for a very Brady sequel to the “Dragging the Classics” are endless. When asked which other episodes would work well, Williams — clearly now very enthusiastic about this entire crossover phenomenon — says, “Anything with music in it would be good!” He even suggests that Bianca, with her signature exaggerated mime makeup, would be the perfect queen to perform Greg’s “clowns never laughed before” song, a.k.a. “Till I Met You,” which Williams actually cowrote. Shea, meanwhile, would love to perform the Brady 6’s winning talent show hit “Keep On.” (“That’s part of my shower in the morning; I know that I could literally do that in my sleep. For me personally, that would be the one I know that I would slay a girl to,” says Shea.) Shea also thinks it would be a “really great casting” to have Bianca and BenDeLaCreme’s Drag Race Season 6 co-star, accomplished pop-rock recording artist Adore Delano, play Davy Jones in the late Monkee’s Brady Bunch episode. “Well, everybody wants to do Davy,” Williams deadpans.
“Dragging the Bradys” is of course just the latest Brady reboot. Along with the two above-mentioned feature films, there’s been The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (which would also be ideal fodder for a “Dragging” special), The Brady Brides, A Very Brady Christmas, A Very Brady Musical, Knight’s VH1 reality show My Fair Brady, spoofs by The X Files and the sitcom Day by Day, and 2019’s wildly successful HGTV series A Very Brady Renovation. Surely when The Brady Bunch premiered, Williams, Plumb, and their castmates couldn’t have imagined that 52 years later, the show would still be such a phenomenon — let alone that it would one day be reenacted by drag queens. And Bianca, who like much of America grew up with The Brady Bunch, is just as amazed.
“It was the ideal life, you know? I just thought it was such a brilliant family, the way that families were blended,” says Bianca. “It just seemed like anything is possible, and growing up, this is what I want. I want to live in that house. I want to have those fashions. I want to experience it. I also think it’s just classic. I mean, it’s a basic stories, but they’re told well, and you had brilliant, talented people playing these parts. And the fact that we get to work with them again, that’s just the insanity of it.”
While five of the original Brady children signed on for “Dragging the Classics: The Brady Bunch,” obviously the original series’ adult actors were dearly missed. Along with Williams playing Mike and Bianca filling in for Florence “Carol Brady” Henderson, who died in 2016, Drag Race Season 11’s Miss Congeniality, Nina West, plays the late Ann B. Davis’s beloved character, Alice the maid. It’s a bittersweet, full-circle moment of LBGTQ+ representation, as it is now well known that Robert Reed was gay — and closeted during his career — and it would be interesting to see what he would think of this envelope-pushing project, which premiered via Paramount+ on the final day of Pride Month 2021. But Plumb says with a sweet smile that Reed, as well as Henderson and Davis, would have gotten a big kick out of “Dragging the Bradys.”
“All of them were performers and troopers with a great sense of humor and a great sense of fun and artistry,” says the real Jan Brady herself. “I think that they would all love this a lot.”
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— Video produced by Jen Kucsak, edited by Jimmie Rhee