Consider our minds boggled at the notion that somehow The Brady Bunch is turning 50 in 2019. How is it possible that it’s been half a century since the show originally premiered on ABC, ran for five seasons, and spawned four spin-off TV series, three TV movies, two big screen features, and an unfilmed animated series and yet another proposed TV movie? And, in the process turned the cast of The Brady Bunch into pop culture icons. On the surface, there is simply no reason that this should have had the afterlife that it’s had, but then again, it’s always defied expectations.

“The show was simple, positive, and it provided an escape for viewers in this tumultuous time in American history,” offers Erika Woehlk, author of Bradypedia: The Complete Reference Guide to Television’s The Brady Bunch in an exclusive interview. “Remember, this was when Vietnam, women’s lib, and the tail end of the civil rights movement were going strong. The Brady Bunch stayed largely apolitical, which I’m sure helped attract viewers.”

In speaking exclusively with Lloyd J. Schwartz, son of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island creator Sherwood Schwartz, he details why both of those shows have endured for all of these years, and — believe it or not — the very specific connection between them. “In essence, people from different places have to come together and make it work,” he says. “That’s what Gilligan was. In that case, he wanted to get people from very different strata of life and put them together in such a way that they couldn’t get away from each other and had to make it work. That’s the same thing with a family. Once you put a family together, you can’t get away. I think many people respond to that basic idea. He always said, ‘God, we’ve got to get along. We’re all in this together,’ and he was talking about the world in general. I think that’s why they’ve resonated for so long.”

Truth be told, you will likely be surprised by just how long, and in how many incarnations, The Brady Bunch has gone on.

Join Lloyd and Erika as we take you through 50 years of The Brady Bunch — just scroll down.