Many shows with teenaged characters, at one time or another, will have an episode plot where one of the characters falls hopelessly in love with a man who is (often) well into his adult years. A variety of situations are borne from this plotline, most often simple misunderstandings. One of The Brady Bunch's fellow Friday-night shows, Room 222, once had an episode that went a bit further, with a teen-aged student becoming lovestruck when the main protagonist teacher makes a simple compliment and takes things way too far and — before she finally explains herself — nearly causes the teacher to lose his job. Other "older man" episodes are parlayed into serious relationships that work out, and more than once the older man uses this as an opportunity to take advantage of the teen protagonist, only to be stopped in the end.
But when it was a case of "Love And the Older Man" in Bradyland, it is the simple misunderstanding variety that this episode took, and it is Marcia who is the one falling in love.
This all happens after Marcia's bi-annual dental checkup, where she falls head-over-heels in love with the new dental associate, a handsome young man named Stanley Vogel. He's married and has a young son ... but Marcia doesn't know that and never thinks to ask or even let on that she has now developed a huge crush on the guy.
And it becomes worse when Marcia talks about her new crush ... and Jan shares what she just happened to read in one of her teen magazines. Perhaps foreshadowing her own future — in the much later Brady Brides, the architecture major marries her professor, who is much older than she is note — Jan declares to Marcia that women who marry men 10-12 years their senior are in more stable relationships ... and Dr. Vogel happens to be 12 years older than Marcia is.
Adding to the complications: When Mike goes to the dentist, Dr. Vogel talks about his weekend plans and that he and his wife are seeking recommendations of good babysitters. Mike suggests Marcia might be available. That night when Mike asks Marcia if she could do a favor for Dr. Vogel ... Marcia gets so excited she doesn't let Mike finish. She's certain that this favor will be to ask her out on a date.
Things grow to a point where Marcia's thoughts about Dr. Vogel make her lose sight of more appropriate males her own age that are interested in her ... or the thought that Vogel is possibly married and his "favor" is nothing more than the babysitting gig her father tried to tell her about. She even has wild fantasies (played out) about her actually being married and becoming "Mrs. Marcia Dentist."
In the end, Vogel (very nicely) sets Marcia straight ... and once things are finally explained, Marcia breaks out of her fantasy, realizes she was acting pretty silly, and agrees to the Saturday night babysitting gig.
Tropes present in this episode:
- All Love Is Unrequited: Marcia's crush on Dr. Vogel. A married man with a young son, Vogel doesn't catch on that someone has a hopeless crush on him until the end of the episode, when he finally explains things. Additionally, Vogel's handling of the whole thing and his explanation is professionally done; he simply explains matters in a way that makes it clear they will not be dating in the near future.
- Dream Sequence: Although Vogel acquits himself very professionally in the final scene, there are several goofy scenes during the second act where Marcia dreams her fantasy of becoming "Mrs. Marcia Dentist(!)" will come to pass, and several romantic scenes between the 17-year-old Marcia and her "husband," the 30-year-old Dr. Vogel.
- MayDecember Romance: What Marcia desires from Dr. Stanley Vogel, and what Jan gleans as the ideal romance from Teen Time magazine.
- Shout-Out: To Love, American Style which, like The Brady Bunch, aired Friday evenings on ABC as part of ABC's original 1970s TGIF block. (Most of that series' episodes began with "Love and .") The plot, in fact, could easily be used on an episode of that series.