OUIMET, Mass. Eve Walz and Caroline Mack are sisters whose lives would appear to be devoid of major problems; both are happily married with healthy, well-adjusted children and live in upscale suburbs where the most troubling incident to appear in the local newspaper’s police report is rarely more serious than a raccoon sighting at the town swimming pool. “I don’t know what it is,” says Roger Walz, the husband of Eve, the elder of the two. “They’re both happy when they’re apart, but they start hissing at each other after five minutes when we get together as families.”
The problem got so bad that Clint Mack, Caroline’s husband, asked his primary care physician to recommend a psychologist to analyze the situation, and Dr. Michael McAfee was called in to consult with the two families. “Easiest co-pay I ever earned,” McAfee tells this reporter. “I asked what the age range of the women was, and when I heard they were two years apart and in their early 60s, I knew what the problem was.”
McAfee diagnosed the cause of the frequent conflicts as Jan and Marcia Brady Syndrome, an intra-family malady that afflicts female siblings who grew up watching The Brady Bunch, a television program that aired from 1969 to 1974 and which frequently pitted attractive and popular Marcia Brady against her insecure, be-freckled younger sister, Jan.
“Just as schizophrenia is less an individual mental illness than the product of familial conflict, Jan and Marcia Brady Syndrome can only be addressed by treating both sisters, and not just one,” McAfee says as he fast forwards through episodes of the popular series, which produced a number of reunion films and spin-offs including The Brady Girls Get Married, A Very Brady Christmas, The Brady Bunch News Hour and Texas Rattlesnake Hunt with Jan and Marcia Brady.
Victims of Jan and Marcia Brady Syndrome exhibits symptoms that include narcissism in the elder sister and depression in the younger. Inter-sister sniping often includes catch-phrases from the series itself, as when Eve Walz says “Sure, Jan” to Caroline Mack’s claim that her daughter is applying to nearby Wellesley College, and Caroline responds with “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” when her husband innocently compliments Eve’s outfit at a family get-together.
The evening ends with a truce as the two sisters “agree to disagree” on whose children’s school system is better, whether soccer is harmful to girls’ knees, and if the United States got a “raw deal” when the War of 1812 ended with the Treaty of Ghent.
“We’ll have to do this again real soon,” Roger Walz says to Clint Mack in the restaurant’s parking lot.
“Yeah,” cracks Eve. “Like, Christmas 2025.”