We never got to watch Carol Brady grow older. Never felt her regret for the years she lost indulging her kids’ dreams of stardom (delusional, let’s face it) when all along, she was the one with talent. Perhaps if she’d taken voice lessons, braved an open mic night at a cocktail lounge in the city, asked her cousin Gene, the wedding singer, if his band could use a female vocalist. She might have carved out something for herself.
We never got to see Carol curled up on the sofa, needlepoint set aside, circling real estate listings in the newspaper with a keen eye. Mike may be the architect, but Carol once dabbled in residential sales. They could get a fortune for this place, find a cute two-bedroom condo, and live by the beach instead of landlocked in a house that’s both too big and never big enough when the family converges on holidays. If only Mike would agree to downsize.
We never got to witness Carol’s lust for her husband mellow into companionship. Never watched her mind drift to retrieve a long-lost fantasy that opens with Carol in a cheerleading uniform (swiped from Marcia’s closet, nothing underneath) greeting Joe Namath at her front door, and finishes with Carol bent over the pool table in the car port, skirt above her waist, Joe sliding into home. And yes, she’s mixing sports metaphors, but she’s Carol Fucking Brady so back off.
We never got to see Carol’s growing discomfort at having a uniformed, live-in housekeeper long after the kids moved out, Alice’s role (family member or employee?) still awkwardly ambiguous. Never felt Carol’s resentment that she’s damned either way — if she fires an elderly woman with nowhere to go, or if she keeps her out of obligation and must now include an extra bedroom with en suite, if they ever move.
We never got to see Carol navigate life as a widow, taking tentative steps back into the world not as Mrs. Brady, but Carol. Never watched her share a pitcher of margaritas with old friends, wind her way to the karaoke machine and (show tunes were always her strength) kill it with Seasons of Love. We never felt the boozy applause wash over her and awaken something within.
We never got to see Carol flee to a cheap beachside motel, yearning for a few hours alone with her thoughts whilst the entire Brady clan descends on the house Christmas Day. Yes, she loves her kids and in-laws and grands, but why is she still expected to host when there are 12 other adults who could volunteer just once? Never nodded in solidarity as Carol accepts her room key from a guy named Rio, walks straight onto her balcony, and lights the stale, sad-looking joint she found in a shoebox while cleaning out Greg’s old closet.
We never got to hear Carol on the phone giving Jan till the end of the week to remove her moldering collection of unsold Longaberger baskets from the attic or they are going in the dumpster. Never watched her slip Alice an envelope of cash, hug her goodbye and promise to stay in touch. Never saw Carol’s hint of a smile as the moving crew loads the last of her belongings into a van.
We never got one last, glorious look at Carol Brady, silver hair cut in a sharply angled bob, as she drives off grinning, windows down, singing along with Sheryl Crow.