The recent death of writer/producer Sherwood Schwartz has left a void of blame for our distorted and perverted development as a generation. As creator of both “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch”, Schwartz led us away from the realities of family dysfunction with the wholesomeness of the Brady mid-century modern home and cultivated an ongoing debate of ‘Who’d ya rather nail, Ginger or Marianne’?
“The Brady Bunch” launched harmless memories of a bad Bogart impersonation with ‘Pork chops in apple sauce’ and a perpetually handy name for a pretend boyfriend with ‘George Glass’. “Gilligan’s Island” let the fiendish side of our personalities emerge with fantasies of giving Mrs. Howell a different kind of pearl necklace.
It would be easy to dismiss these two series when you compare them to “All in the Family”, “M*A*S*H”, “The Cosby Show”, “Seinfeld” or “Modern Family”. Yet, here we are 40+ years after their original run and we can’t get them out of our heads, much like witnessing a baby pee on a parent’s face during a diaper change.
The epicenter of our Brady memories are all tied to Marcia. Countless girls found a bond with Jan’s competitive struggle for identity growing up with an older, more popular girl in Marcia. Countless boys dreamed of Marcia as a potential girlfriend. Many still consider her fictional character as attainable. (Get straight, losers, she was twelve).
In “Gilligan’s Island”, Bob Denver went from the coolest cat in America via his character Maynard G. Krebs in “Dobie Gillis”, to being the skinny one in a Laurel and Hardy homage. Could anyone truly be that much of a bumbling idiot? Well, yeah, take a look at your freshman photo in your high school yearbook. Sure, the cast built pedal vehicles out of bamboo and coconuts but obvious questions endured, such as, why they had so much luggage? Why was a millionaire couple on such a skimpy tour instead of being on their own yacht? Why was a movie star onboard? Over time, new questions have arisen such as, why didn’t Ginger ever modify her evening gowns to address the tropical climate? Why did Thurston Howell III wear an ascot, blazer and saucer cap in this same heat? Why was Marianne always dressed like the farmer’s daughter in a travelling salesman joke? Why didn’t the Skipper confront Ginger with a “You’re a movie star, how about ditching some wardrobe so I can work your back lot?”
These questions help propel “Gilligan’s Island” to run on separate rails than “The Brady Bunch”. Impossible theories are often assembled during typical party dialogue, especially among baby boomers.
“I think the Professor was gay”.
“I think the Skipper and Gilligan were gay”.
“I’m pretty sure that the Professor received a handjob from Thurston Howell III”.
“I’m pretty sure the Skipper was drilling Mrs. Howell”.
“Ginger or Marianne? Are you kidding? Ménage a trois!”
“Let me just put this out there . . . the Professor and Gilligan”.
“Mr. Howell and Gilligan”.
“Okay. How about Ginger and Marianne?”
May the Schwartz be with you.