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The Allure of Happy Families (on the Cullens as the new Brady Bunch)

September 8, 2009

In reading up and re-watching two popular 80’s vampire flicks, Lost Boys and Near Dark, I got to thinking about the Cullens and their depiction as the perfect family. Sure, they are a bit out of the ordinary with the parents only a few years older than the kids, the kids paired off into couples, and more wealth than your average country, and, well, they are vampires. But, despite their differences, they accord to so many of the things associated with perfect families: they are headed by a monogamous, happy, attractive couple, they are God-fearing, they have a nice home, they value education, they are good capitalist consumers, and there is no mixed-race or same-sex shenanigans going on. They are as white as you can get with no hints whatsoever any of them they would vote no on Prop 8 or would support same-sex marriage (let alone reproductive choice – except Bella who’s narrative of course ultimately ends up valorizing the anti-choice stance).

Bella’s broken family is contrasted to the Cullens, with a dad that can’t operate a microwave let alone cook, and a mom that is chasing after her own baseball hero. By story’s end, Bella and Edward are the new model of perfect nuclear happiness, fawning over Renesmee and already planning for her perfect union with Jacob. Ah, the lure of eternal families.

The film The Lost Boys circulates around families as well –Michael’s family (the vampire to be) is headed by a single-mom and a whacky grandpa. The mom, Lucy, is reminiscent of Renee, who Bella describes as “loving, erratic, hare-brained”. Lucy is dating Max, who we discover is not the nice-video-store owning nerdy type we presume, but rather the patriarch of the vampiric Lost Boys. At the film’s close, he says to Lucy “It was all going to be so perfect…Just like one big happy family” to which Edgar Frog, one of the vampire hunters in the know, quips, “Great! A blood-sucking Brady Bunch.”

Here I had one of those a-ha moments (though not quite as profound as those shared in O, The Oprah Magazine). “The Cullens are the new Bradys,” I thought, flashing back to the umpteen hours of my childhood spent watching Jan, Marsha, Cindy, Greg, Pete, and Bobby solve all their problems with big smiles on their faces (except for the sometimes bitchy Jan). These linkages have not been lost on others. For example, Simply Delightful and Polyvore both offer Cullen-ified versions of the classic Brady square, as does this example from Twilog:

And, the following YouTube clips both use The Brady Bunch theme song to envision the Cullens as the new Brady Bunch:

As the March 2009 issue of Vogue reported in the story “Dreamcatcher,” Stephenie Meyer thinks of her own family in Brady terms.

Hmmm, I am seeing sitcom possibilities here. How about a television show with the Cullen siblings musing on such issues as the middle child syndrome, running for student council, or what to do when one is allergic to the family dog (wolf?).

The Cullens could be the new Bradys, bringing wholesomeness and so-called family values to the twenty-first century in that sickly -sweet style. Perhaps Meyer could play the role of Alice, who was in so many ways the true matriarch of the the Brady family… (Not sure how the ripping the baby out of the womb with teeth could be incorporated nor the body covered in bruises after human/vampire sex scene, but it would make for lots to talk about during those family meetings!)

One thing that would be GREAT to see would be an episode of the “”The Liberation of Marcia Brady” style, where Marcia argues for women’s rights. The liberation of Bella could include her asking why she has to change all the sparkly poop diapers and WHEN she will get to go to college and leave the vampire cottage… The liberation of Renesmee could include Nessie’s asking why she has been betrothed to a wolf-man when she is not yet a toddler… The liberation of Leah could include her realization that she doesn’t have to view herself as a “genetic dead-end” and that Sam was an abusive schmuck…

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