Thursday, March 06, 2014


They're casting the new Gilligan's Island movie. Yes, the three hour tour which has now lasted half a century, continues. Whether or not producers choose to play the whole thing as camp or as a precursor to "Lost," the choices ahead of them are daunting. There is no more crushing and eternal debate than the one set up in 1964: Ginger or Mary Ann?
Sherwood Schwartz set up this dynamic in the very first episode: Small town girl Mary Ann Summers was played by Dawn Wells, while Hollywood bombshell Ginger Grant was embodied by Tina Louise. The competition was initially played down, but became apparent throughout the three year run of the series: girl next door or sex kitten? They were both citizens of the Island, but as each season ran into the next, viewers couldn't help but notice the friction.
I believe this duality was drawn from an earlier source: Archie comics. Betty was the wholesome blond. Veronica was the spoiled brunette. Who would Archie choose? On Gilligan's Island, this pairing off was never as explicit, but one could imagine the challenge of three eligible bachelors vying for the attention of two potential mates. For Archie, things were simpler, only periodically was his choice tempered by the addition of Reggie into the equation. Jughead was a non-factor.
This tableau was echoed in the struggle between Chrissie and Janet on Three's Company, though casting directors flipped the table here once again, putting the bimbo in the blond while the brunette returned to the down-to-earth one. Shortly after this, came what was, for me, the most difficult choice: Bailey Quarters versus Jennifer Marlowe. The men who worked at WKRP in Cincinnati seemed at all time willing to fall at the feet of the hyper-sexualilzed Jennifer while ignoring the obvious charms of Ms. Quarters.
Perhaps you share my quandary, or perhaps you didn't make it past that first sentence.

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