I was in a store the other day and I saw someone wearing a Gilligan hat. Imagine that, having a hat become so synonymous with your character that people forever refer to it with your character’s name.
In fact, few other shows have had the cultural impact of Gilligan’s island. Did you know for example that the question "Ginger or Mary Ann?" is regarded to be a classic pop-psychological question when given to American men of a certain age as an insight into their characters, or at least their desires as regarding certain female stereotypes?
That’s quite an impact for a show that only aired for…3 years!
So what made the show into such a pop culture icon? 2 reasons:
Because it made you long for a life on a deserted island…
Sure, the sets were cheesy by today’s standards but still. The island was a very exotic place for someone from little-town America. Many a young boy had visions of living in one of those bamboo huts and sleeping in a hammock like Gilligan.
Because it made no pretention at seriousness.
Gilligan’s Island was funny and goofy and the perfect way to escape from a bad day at the office (or in my case, at school). TV shows today, even the zanier one, always seem to want you to learn a lesson of some sort, or aim to provide a moral with a social redemptive aspect to it.
Gilligan’s Island made no such claim. You didn’t really learn anything from watching this show (besides perhaps how to make a bomb out of a coconut) and you know what? You didn’t need to! It was pure, guiltless fun. I think we could use some of that right about now!
I did a bit of digging around, as I usually do when something stirs up my nostalgia gland. I learned a lot about the show and about the story behind the show.
I also found fascinating facts about the actors who brought these characters to life. Did you know?
So, to our merry band of castaways I say this. Thank you for providing us with a show and characters that made us laugh, and made us dream!
Bob Denver (Gilligan)
Alan Hale Jr. (The Skipper)
Russell Johnson (The Professor)
Tina Louise (Ginger Grant)
Dawn Wells (Mary Ann)
Jim Backus (Thurston Howell, III)
Natalie Schafer (Lovey Howell)