Downton Abbey, the Brady Bunch and the Jetsons

Three shows (Downton Abbey, the Brady Bunch and Jetsons) each share a common theme: an interesting housemaid helping around the home.

Ok, so I am not making a full set of direct comparisons between the three, but what first got me thinking about this was how much Alice (the housemaid) on the Brady Bunch and O’Brien (Called Miss O’Brien too on Downton Abbey) looked alike. The more I thought about the two, the more comparisons I started making about their role in each family and how it reflected the time period. What I concluded was that the period or time difference wouldn’t change either character. One is conniving, deceptive and manipulative while the other is funny, quirky and full of heart.

Downton Abbey's Miss O'Brien and the Brady Bunch's Alice
Miss O’Brien from Downton Abbey looks like Alice from the Brady Bunch

Both Downton Abbey and the Brady Bunch are very popular shows that either have or had a strong following. But the differences between each family (and their helpers) are almost opposites.So what would that look like in today’s culture?

I guess the next evolution or change is moving away from people to technology and robots. Perhaps Rosie from the Jetsons will be a reality. Think of a Siri that works and can perform real tasks in the home. Or she or he (Siri) acts like Carson from Downton and tells someone else to do this or that command. Like everything else, we can’t stop the move toward robotics and artificial intelligence. Why not have a household helper who doesn’t talk back, gets the job done right the first time and doesn’t ask for a raise – only needs basic maintenance. And if you don’t like it, no worries. Next year, you can get a new one with more features for a lower price. Or perhaps a new personality you can download or voice (like your GPS or Siri voice).

Again, this quick thought originated watching the sneaky O’Brien (Sarah O’Brien) and her discussing how she is a servant and how “they pay us to do as we’re told. That’s all.” Then several months later seeing Alice (Alice Nelson) in action in the Brady Bunch while watching it with my kids and how Alice didn’t complain, had a smile on her face most times and real care and concern. Here was someone who cared not for one person, but the entire family. It made me think how in today’s world, the “old ways” from just fifty years ago, let alone one hundred years ago and the blend of technology really does change people and the personalities they present. Both can do a great job (minus the talking back or side comments) if they apply themselves. A work ethic makes all the difference.

I am glad that people are still people. There are different varieties, some more pleasant than others. And grateful that some of them are only ones that “play one on tv.” Back to my kids. I really am grateful they are learning to
do a good job in everything they do. Some small attitude changes here and there and a strong work ethic will pay them dividends. Just watch out for Rosie, she’s already becoming reality.

Now if we can just get those flying cars in the Jetsons or even the Hover Board (floating skateboards) from Back to the Future… I am sure Google or Apple are already working on it.