“Like, are we all Jan?” Tumblr runetangclan asked, after images from 1996's A Very Brady Sequel of Jan Brady scoffing, Marcia Brady glaring, and the Brady parents “sipping tea” in the background recently appeared, en masse, across Tumblr. Since the movie debuted on Netflix earlier this month, Jan and Marcia have become the subject of a very specific, very charming meme. Why? How? Huh? I must know.
It's a perfect setup. No doubt a bunch of high-school-age kids, raging against the machine, dealing with the ups and downs of puberty, would relate to Jan, the Bradys' resident underdog. Especially in The Brady Bunch Sequel (and the 1995 original!), where, thanks to some brilliant comedic acting by Jennifer Elise Cox, she's more of an exaggerated awkward than ever. And then there is her equally distorted popular-girl sister, Marcia Brady (Christine Taylor), as the perfect bully. Put them together, and you get this:
Did you catch that? Jan's talking about her fake boyfriend George
Tropicana Glass, and Marcia responds, curtly, "That's funny, I've never heard of a George Glass at our school." Well, more like:
School, or "sküle," as Tumbler heard it pronounced, is a topic near and dear to so many teens. In fact, it's one of the few universal topics they've got, so you can see why it was essential here. I reached out to one of my favorite Tumblrs, laughterkey, run by self-proclaimed Brady Bunch Movie fan, admitted non-teen, and all-around “on it” reblogger Sarah Davis to see if she knew what was happening. She explained that so much of the Jan Brady stuff (GIFs! Videos! Mash-ups!) originated from different Tumblrs across the platform, “however, it got kick-started when someone ran with the sküle bit." She continued that after "sküle," "[it] then turned into general posts about Marcia throwing shade at Jan.” That’s the “Sure, Jan” moment you’re seeing turned into a GIF and being tossed around as a comeback to people quite literally asking each other, “Why is this even a meme? This is actually dumb as hell."
(Guess when “Bye, Felicia!” is played out, we’ll just replace it with “Sure, Jan.”)
In case you were planning a marathon, The Brady Bunch Movie and its sequel are no longer streaming on Netflix, but they were up until the end of January. Streaming is a huge factor in what's talked about, culture-wise, especially if you speak in image macros and GIFs, like so many Tumblr kids do. A film that appears on Netflix ten or 15 or 20 years after its release might just find an audience that was too young to have seen it in theaters (e.g.: Have you ever searched for Bee Movie on Tumblr? I recommend it.) And there they have the freedom to do whatever they want to it, to make the joke whatever they want — whether it's intended or not. Whether it is this:
Later in our conversation, Davis told me, “I have gotten more messages from people (both friends and strangers) about this than any other odd thing I've jumped on. Most of them asking if I'm on drugs.” It's not an uncommon reaction to memes by outsiders! The fact is, once a meme starts rolling, the absurdity of what you’re distorting (quite literally, a one-minute scene from a 20-year-old movie) takes over, and you might start to lose it a little. You’re here to make your friends laugh, and in this case, your friends are the other Tumblr people obsessing over that Brady Bunch moment. I guess there's no "why"; it just is. (Enjoy it while it lasts!) And that's all. It's Friday; sküle's out.