Was there really a Brady Bunch episode about measles?
In fact, there was an episode about how all of The Brady Bunch kids got the measles.
Is There a Doctor in the House?
All six Brady kids have the Measles at the same time, and problems arise when Carol calls in the girls’ female pediatrician while Mike brings in the boys’ male pediatrician.
Why is that a big deal?
It’s not to most people. Except that all six kids coming down with measles at the same time does help to demonstrate how contagious measles can be.
And it’s not surprising that they wouldn’t be vaccinated, after all, they had Bobby’s tiki idol to protect them.
Anti-vaccine folks think it is an argument for the “fact” that measles wasn’t thought of as a serious infection. After all, if they did a TV show about it, how bad could it be?
A sitcom making light of a serious issue isn’t exactly news.
In the 1962 episode of Mr Ed, “Ed Gets Amnesia,” he hits his head and can’t remember Wilbur. That doesn’t mean that folks thought that head injuries and amnesia weren’t serious things, does it?
What does the episode a few years later, “Ed Gets the Mumps,” mean? In the episode, “Ed pretends to have the mumps in order to compete for attention with a neighbors’ baby who is attracting the attention of the Posts and the Kirkwoods.” If mumps wasn’t thought to be a serious infection, then why would he get any attention?
Other TV shows even discussed measles, including Lassie, The Honeymooners, The Doris Day Show, Leave it to Beaver, and The Flintstones.
In a 1956 episode of The Honeymooners:
A Matter of Record
TOMMY: Hello, Mr. Kramden. Hi, Mr. Norton. Your wife told me you’d be down here. I got some bad news. Steve Austin can’t play tomorrow. He’s got the measles.
NORTON: How d’ya like that. On the eve of a big baseball game my second baseman comes down with the measles. I’m tellin’ ya, Ralph, the life of a coach ain’t all beer and skittles. Haven’t we got no substitute?
TOMMY:That’s just it. We don’t have a substitute… (to Ralph) unless you’d play for us. How about it Mr. Kramden? Do you think you could cover second base?
Not being able to play baseball isn’t the end of the world, even when it’s a big game, but it’s not nothing.
In Father Knows Best, Kathy gets measles and ‘father’ has to promise to let her build a playhouse just so she will take her medicine. And he has to eat dinner with her outside in the playhouse.
Memories of being comforted by his teddy bear Billy, which was given to him by his Aunt Martha when he was sick in bed with measles, led Beaver to chase down a garage truck to save it in the episode “Beaver’s Old Friend.”
In The Doris Day Show in 1970, “Today’s World Catches the Measles,” one of the characters is described as being listless, develops a fever, and is eventually diagnosed with measles. What happens next? His contacts are put under quarantine.
A now vaccine-preventable disease, mumps, leads two major characters to be quarantined in a 1980 episode of M*A*S*H too.
And in a 1958 episode of Lassie:
Ruth finds out that Timmy has been exposed to measles after he and Paul leave on a long drive to buy a calf. When Paul finds out Timmy is sick, he takes a shortcut home, runs out of gas, and sends Lassie for help.
Lassie also has to help out in the episode “The Hospital,” when Timmy gets chicken pox.
How else were vaccine-preventable diseases portrayed? Remember Gone With The Wind and Scarlett O’Hara’s first husband? He died of measles.
And in the fifth season of Little House on the Prairie, “The Winoka Warriors,” one of the characters is blind – the result of a past measles infection.
For more information:
- The Disneyland measles outbreak: “Dr. Bob” Sears says measles isn’t that bad, and an antivaccine activist invokes the Brady Bunch fallacy
- Quoth Katie Tietje: Stop being mean to non-vaccinators
- TruthKings: Not so truthful about vaccines
- Bill Maher doubles down on his antivaccine misinformation…again