Bold wigs, shady comments and a heartwarming message to love yourself. (Can I get an amen?)
No, we’re not talking about “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, although all of them are staples in VH1’s long drag competition. Instead, we’re referring to “The Brady Bunch,” which made misfit middle child Jan Brady (Eve Plumb) a true queer icon with “Will the Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?”
The classic 1971 ABC comedy episode follows an exasperated Jan as she purchases a curly black wig for a friend’s birthday party, in an effort to stand out from her more popular sisters – and also blondes – Marcia (Maureen McCormick) and Cindy (Susan Olsen). But the new headdress backfires: Jan’s half-brothers Greg (Barry Williams) and Bobby (Mike Lookinland) compare her to Davy Crockett and a skunk.
“Brady Bunch” at 50:The “kids” remember Davy Jones, Kissinger’s visit, and “Oh, my nose! “
“They’ve been pretty specific with these readings,” said Shea Coulee, winner of Season 5 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” who plays eldest daughter Marcia in a new crossover special “Dragging the Classics: The Brady Bunch” (now streaming on Paramount +).
“I was like, ‘Dang, these brothers really let Jan have her when she’s just trying to express herself.'”
In “Dragging the Classics”, the queens of the “Drag Race” franchise team up with the stars of “Brady Bunch” to recreate the episode almost verbatim, in full 70s outfit. Current “All Stars” contestant Kylie Sonique Love takes place in January.
“She’s done really well,” says Plumb, 63, who makes a cameo appearance as Lucy, the girl whose birthday party Jan is hoping to make a splash. For her, “It was really fun to go out and play a different character like Lucy, especially in a little lifted up way with the big wig. Although it’s kinda weird to see me dressed as a 12 year old girl. . ”
Williams, 66, is now the father of Mike Brady, originally played by Robert Reed.
“I feel more like my dad now so it was probably less of a reach for me than it would have been to try and play Greg, 15,” said Williams. “Robert Reed was a mentor of mine. I studied his movements during shows, so bringing in some of the ways he would hold himself and what he would do with his hands seemed pretty easy. I wonder how he would revise my performance? ” he said of his sitcom father, who died in 1992.
RuPaul, who appeared in 1995’s “The Brady Bunch Movie” and its 1996 sequel, appears on the half-hour special as a wig store clerk who sells Jan his new “make.” The new cast is completed by “Drag Race” Season 13 finalist Kandy Muse as younger daughter Cindy and Season 6 winner Bianca Del Rio as mom Carol Brady.
The queens were ordered to play their characters totally straight, so “it was nice to be subtle, which is a rarity for me: playing a functional, kind human like Carol Brady,” says Del Rio. . “And the (original cast members) were so welcoming and generous. I personally enjoyed the downtime, just hearing all of their stories on each episode. I lived for it.”
In the nearly five decades since the original “Brady Bunch” aired in 1974, Jan Brady has made his own life online through various memes (“Sure, Jan”) and taglines (“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia “). But part of the reason LGBTQ people adopted the character – and this episode in particular – is Jan’s realization that she doesn’t have to change who she is to be accepted.
“We love Jan. Jan is an icon,” Coulee says. “It’s something that a lot of people in the community can relate to: feeling like another or a stranger, and just wanting to find a way to express themselves authentically.”