The Brady Bunch : Was Oliver's purpose to bridge the gap between the boys and girls?

Was Oliver's purpose to bridge the gap between the boys and girls?

I've noticed, the 3 sons Greg, Peter, and Bobby are all stereotypical boys, and the 3 daughters, Marsha, Jan and Cindy are all typical girls, as far as interests, hobbies, etc... And many times are in conflict with each other b/c of this, like many situations turn into "boys vs girls".

But cousin Oliver seems to interact well and relate well to both the girls and the boys, it seems like they were going for almost a genderless child to bridge the gap between the brothers and sisters with his character. I mean obviously he was a male child, but didn't have so many boyish interests like the other 3, he also has BLONDE hair like the girls, and not dark like the 3 brothers.

I just wonder if they were going for the non-stereotypical, non gender-conforming kid with Oliver's character?

Re: Was Oliver's purpose to bridge the gap between the boys and girls?

In hindsight, it does seem that Oliver was 'non-gender', and you cite some interesting examples. There were episodes where the Brady boys and girls collaborated prior to Oliver:
-The Teeter-Totter Caper (Bobby and Cindy work together to break a world record)
-Career Fever (Peter and Jan work together to learn medical terms)
-The Great Earring Caper (Peter and Cindy work together to solve the case of the missing earrings.

Oliver mainly interacted with Bobby and Cindy and was involved in story-lines where there were opportunities to get rich (Shirley Temple and Hair Tonic episodes) or catch secret agents (Sam the Spy episode). He was never featured being overtly engaged in traditionally feminine interests. I think his 'bridging the gap' had more to do with him being the youngest child looking up to the older kids rather than some revolutionary, but covert, agenda on the part of the show's producers and writers.


Re: Was Oliver's purpose to bridge the gap between the boys and girls?

From what I remember it seems Oliver hung around Cindy more than anyone and was kinda like Cindy's little sidekick lol

Re: Was Oliver's purpose to bridge the gap between the boys and girls?

😀

Re: Was Oliver's purpose to bridge the gap between the boys and girls?

Oliver mainly hung out with Bobby and Cindy. They were closest to his age. And since he is Carol's nephew, it's not surprising that he's blonde like her and the girls. I think they also did it, because there were so many kids in the family, that they wanted to avoid confusion.

Re: Was Oliver's purpose to bridge the gap between the boys and girls?

I think it was mainly b/c the other kids were getting older and they wanted another YOUNG child on the show, maybe to perhaps recapture the feel of the earlier years.

I just thought it was unique that Oliver was not into the typical boyish behavior like making volcanos, putting itching power in ppl's clothing and talking about how icky the girls are like the other 3 boys did lol Oliver was sorta a character that fits in well to both groups.

Re: Was Oliver's purpose to bridge the gap between the boys and girls?

Yes it was.

Re: Was Oliver's purpose to bridge the gap between the boys and girls?

Rist was a better actor at his age than Susan or Mike were...ever. The Oliver character was interesting too. I know there's a lot of hate shouldered on Rist / Oliver, but I'm guessing that is because it signaled a desperate but failed ploy by the producer to keep the show afloat.

I'm wondering if that hate would still resonate if Oliver had been a recurring character in the same number of episodes, but spread out over seasons 4 and 5? If they found an interesting way to spin Oliver off into a series of his own, how would his time on the Brady Bunch be judged?

Re: Was Oliver's purpose to bridge the gap between the boys and girls?

Spinoff could have worked. Perhaps his parents - Jack and Pauline - were killed in South America. And then Ken and Kathy Kelly from next door could have adopted him into the Kelly's Kids brood.

Re: Was Oliver's purpose to bridge the gap between the boys and girls?

I agree with Tinkerbell. I never thought that Cousin Oliver was so bad, it's just the way he was used as a lame ploy to try to resurrect a show that was on it's way out. So many TV shows have the same bright idea- "The kids are getting older and they're not cute anymore, hey I know let's bring in a younger kid!" But it never works and the shows get canceled anyway.

I also wanted to mention that the actor who played him (Robbie Rist) was a talented enough actor. When they were showing the Mary Tyler Moore marathon last week I saw Robbie on one of the episodes and I immediately thought to myself "Cousin Oliver!" He was a little taller but other than that he looked exactly the same. He even had the same hairstyle and glasses.

Re: Was Oliver's purpose to bridge the gap between the boys and girls?

Yes Ted Baxter adopted him...he was in the series finale. I remember seeing him in commercials after The Brady Bunch went off the air, then on other shows. He did 2 episides of Chips as a teen. In the 2nd one he had finally his John Denver look. I was only 7 when the show ended so I always enjoyed having Rist on the show. No cousin Oliver hate from me.
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