Friday, August 03, 2007

Real Love for Fake Jan

What is it about Fake Jan that makes her the greatest replacement character in television history? She certainly wasn't the first to fill in for an actor in a well-known role (Dick Sargent famously became Darrin Stephens back in '69 when Dick York could no longer fulfill his duties) and she certainly won't be the last (I'm still reeling over Fake Becky on "Roseanne" -- death to Sarah Chalke -- you will NEVER be Becky Connor to me!).

And Fake Jan wasn't even the only Fake Brady Girl. Jennifer Runyon, best known for playing Scott Baio's girlfriend Gwendolyn Pierce on "Charles in Charge" filled in for Susan Olsen's Cindy in 1988's "A Very Brady Christmas" and Leah Ayers stepped into Maureen McCormick's shoes to play Marcia on the short-lived series "The Bradys" back in 1990. But it was Geri Reischl as Jan for nine excruciating episodes of "The Brady Bunch (Variety) Hour" back in 1976-77 (complete with synchronized swimmers) that has forever set the standard by which other "fake" characters will be measured. There was just something so fitting about the cantankerous Jan -- "I wish I were an only child" -- refusing to take part in a family reunion that made it all so fun (you just know Eve Plumb was the exact same way). And the fact that it happened on a show that we didn't care about rather than on "The Brady Bunch" made it safe -- and so much easier to get over. "The Simpsons" even parodied the situation back in 1997 when the gang got its own variety show and Lisa refused to participate.

It seems Geri Reischl has gotten a decent amount of mileage out of being Fake Jan, too. (Can you blame her? How fun!!!) She never landed another role after that having been a fairly busy child actor beforehand so she might as well enjoy it. You can see what she's up to by visiting her official site here and her Myspace here. We love you, Fake Jan!!!

Related: The Brady Bunch Hour


Frank Anthony Polito said...

Oh, no! How did I miss Fake Jan Day? I was JUST thinking about this...

I will never forget sitting down on the green shag carpet in front of our color-console TV, waiting in anticipation to see the first ever BRADY BUNCH renuion show-- only to be stricken-dumb at the site of Geri Reischl as "Fake Jan."

I couldn't figure out how to pronounce her last name, let alone as to why the "BB (Variety) Hour" producers thought they could pull a fast one on BB fans everywhere!

Anonymous said...

The biggest Fake Jan Day Celebration yet! Fake Jan Festival, Jan. 2, 2012!