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The Trials of Gilligan

The Trials of Gilligan

The other day we were discussing fate. When I say we I mean Gatesy, Blaze and I and when I say discussing I mean drinking a rather good pinot that Gatesy had pulled out from under the stairs and when I say fate I mean the voyage and subsequent shipwreck of the SS Minnow’s crew and passengers on the small coral island that has since become known as Gilligan’s Island.


You see Gatesy reckoned that what happened to the passengers and crew of the SS Minnow on that fateful trip was ordained, cosmically planned and a matter of fate. That and piss poor sailing but even a complete lack of weather knowledge, safety gear and telecommunications can only do so much. There did seem that there was a certain greater hand at work. I mean lets face it, a three hour cruise and then to be lost in a storm of such intensity that you would be swept and marooned on an island so far away from shipping lanes or flight paths that you would be castaway for ever. It certainly does seem that someone had royally pissed the fickle gods off.


Blaze disagreed, not with the piss poor sailing part but with the fate bit. He saw it more that Gilligan, the Skipper, Mr. and Mrs. Howell, Ginger, Mary Anne and The Professor were actually, and let me direct quote here, victims of the “whirlwind of happenstance.” There used to be Prog Rock bands in the 70s like Yes, Styx and Emerson Lake and Palmer that had song titles like Whirlwind of Happenstance.”


Most of the stuff was complete rubbish ripping off bombastic classical composers like Beethoven and Wagner, science fiction stories and pagan rituals. When you combine all that with some fair musicianship and good drugs there will be the occasional gems but more often a crap load of extended organ solos, yodeling and bad cover art. But anyway I digress.


I had a different theory. Actually I had two. One theory, the one more likely to be correct is that Gilligan’s Island is entirely fictional, the cast all actors and the events portrayed all just stories designed to generate some base emotions out of a largely teenage viewing audience. It was not real or logical but just harmless pretend fun written by flares wearing 70s hipsters living in Burbank or the valley in LA whilst listening to The Doors and Buffalo Springfield and dreaming of becoming big time movie producers or at least sleeping with their secretaries.


While this theory is the most likely one it is an easy and most contemptuous thought. Great drama like Gilligan’s Island is meant to tell us so much more about the human condition. For example there is always some bloke who thinks he knows more than you. I'm talking about you, Professor.


So in the spirit of deeper analysis and the second bottle of wine I would like to offer a theory about Gilligan’s Island that is a very different interpretation of the “three hour tour”. This interpretation is the tale of the seven deadly sins and the journey to and the eternity spent in hell by the cast members.


To me it is obvious.

Mr. Howell is greed, Ginger is lust, the Skipper is gluttony, Gilligan is sloth, Mary Anne is envy, Mrs. Howell is wrath and The Professor is pride.


In fact it is so obvious I don’t know why I have never seen it before. Sherwood Schwartz the creator of Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch is a literary genius. I really don’t think I need to say anymore but if you are unsure let me lead you through it.


First of all I think we all should be able, if you have a basic knowledge of the TV show, to see that I have matched the character with the appropriate sin.

Mr. Howell is a freaking millionaire, Ginger is a curvy, red haired honey voiced actress, The skipper is a BIG man and likes his tucker, Gilligan is probably more stupid than lazy but alas that is not a sin so sloth is equally fitting. Mary Anne the perky “girl next door “ has heaps to be envious about if she compares her looks to Ginger or wealth and sophistication to Mrs. Howell. Mrs. Howell does not wish to be snapped out of her dreamy wealthy world and although she most often portrays a doped out vagueness I think she is concealing a degree of rage.


And the Professor is a freaking wiseass about everything except getting their butts off the island which shows his pride stops him from being useful but also stands in the way of the true knowledge of their situation i.e. they are in hell for eternity. Here is a guy who could build, mostly with coconuts and vines, while marooned on a tropical island, a lie detector, a washing machine, a car and a charger for their radio but could not fix the boat. Now that is hubris.


Throw in all the other classic tropes of English literature and ancient Greek and Roman myths like strangers brought together on a journey, a tempest, the inability to escape due to some weird lassitude, the ghastly theme song and it is so obviously an allegorical journey to hell.

Think how many times they were almost rescued, how many times different people, even doppelgangers dropped by and then scarpered off and never told anyone the castaways were there.

It’s like that bloke Sisyphus, forever doomed to push the boulder up the hill only to have it roll back down.


So there you have it. Gilligan’s Island is an allegorical tale of the seven deadly sins and hell. Sheer sitcom genius. Thank you and Good night.

Mic drop


PS. Gatesy and Blaze didn’t buy it either.



Favourite Episodes

The one with the ghost

The one with the totem pole

The one when Gilligan goes grey

The one with the Hollywood producer

The One with The Mars spacecraft

The one with the Japanese soldier


70s Prog Rock highlights or lowlights depending on how you look at it


Tales From A Topographic Ocean – Yes

Brain Salad Surgery – Emerson Lake and Palmer

In The Court of The Crimson King – King Crimson

The Grand Illusion – Styx

The Six Wives of Henry The Eighth – Rick Wakeman

Nursery Cryme - Genesis

Everything is Political These Days

Everything is Political These Days