Getting away from it all on TV is not quite like the vacations we take in real life. For every family that goes on a holiday (like “The Brady Bunch”), there are multiple groups of unrelated co-workers, boarding school chums and pals who have the time and resources to pop overseas for weddings, jewel heists and general mayhem. And while you may not have the luck (or misfortune) to travel in the kinds of gangs these folks do, they can still teach all of us a lot about how not to spend our free time.
1. “I Love Lucy” (1955)
They may have bickered a lot, but Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and Ethel and Fred Mertz must have truly been BFFs: They were willing to travel across the country in a car together. Most of the episode in which they prepared for the great journey involves the looming fear that the car will contain one other passenger: Lucy’s mom, Mrs. McGillicuddy. Thank goodness for nausea: Just as they’re resigned to fitting all five in the car, Lucy’s mom says she gets carsick, so she’s staying behind. And a good thing, too – who would have looked after Little Ricky otherwise?
2. “The Brady Bunch” (1972)
In three episodes, the Bradys get in just about as much trouble in Hawaii as one can without leaving the general Honolulu area. It all starts when Bobby finds a tiki doll at the construction site where a building Mike designed is being built … and it means bad luck! This leads to Greg having a surfing accident, Alice hurting her back mid-hula, Bobby nearly getting crushed by a wall display, and a tarantula creeping into Jan’s purse (and crawling back out on Peter). Naturally, there is a Wise Old Man to clue them in as to how to shake the bad luck … and Vincent Price (as a villainous archaeologist) to make things worse. In other words, Hawaii is clearly the opposite of paradise.
3. “The Facts of Life” (1987)
Filmed a s a TV movie originally and shown as four individual episodes in syndication, the boarding school gals all took a trip Down Under, in which wackiness and “Brady Bunch”-style escapades occur: Blair and Jo learn of a jewel heist; Natalie gets lost in the Outback; and Tootie meets a Yale student who pretends to be an Aborigine. Alas, no tiki dolls!
4. “Friends” (1998)
Going abroad for a wedding seems to be a good idea on TV shows, when somehow it makes sense that co-workers travel and play together as a unit. In the case of “Friends,” nearly everyone hauls their cookies to London for the infamous Ross/Emily wedding, which is promptly ruined when he reads his vows wrong: “I, Ross, take thee, Rachel.” End of story, end of wedding. On the bright side, however, Monica and Chandler made a love connection for the first time.
5. “Scrubs” (2009)
The Bradys’ ill-fated journey to Hawaii is so famous it inspired much of the Bahamas visit the “Scrubs” gang took to celebrate a wedding 37 years later. There’s even a dream flashback where Barry Williams (who wiped out as Greg in “The Brady Bunch”) sells cursed tiki dolls. J.D. and Turk both wear tiki necklaces, and every time something terrible happens to them they sing aloud music used in the “Brady” episodes.
6. “Modern Family” (2014)
The grown-ups of the family all get a sweet (and suite) trip to Las Vegas that turns into a comedy of errors. The gang fails to get the top-level room they’d hoped, have bathtub mishaps and misunderstandings regarding “fun time” whips and handcuffs, and there’s even a towel strategically caught in a door. Lesson learned: If your family unit is accustomed to getting into all kinds of surreal scrapes, expect them to multiply by the hundreds when you hit Sin City.
Randee Dawn is a contributor for InsureMyTrip and can be found at randeedawn.com and @RandeeDawn on Twitter.