‘Gilligan’s Island’: Mary Ann Actress Dawn Wells Explained How TV Came Long Way: ‘Couldn’t Even Show My Navel’

by Clayton Edwards
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One of the things that makes “Gilligan’s Island” so popular is that it is fun for the whole family. There’s plenty of goofy humor for everyone to laugh at. There are also some clever ideas on how to get off of the island. At the same time, the relationships between characters are engaging and entertaining.

All of this is tied up in a bow of family friendliness. You won’t end up with any uncomfortable conversations if you watch the classic show with your kids. That’s hard to come by in a primetime sitcom today.

When “Gilligan’s Island” hit the airwaves, they weren’t trying to sell on shock value. Primetime TV was for the whole family. People were sitting down together after dinner to watch some shows before bed. The shows needed to be able to safely entertain the entire family, kids included.

If they needed higher ratings, they would come up with a crazy plotline instead of lowering the necklines of their female leads. Today, primetime TV is almost the exact opposite.

Dawn Wells discussed how much television has changed over the years in an interview with “TVparty.” while promoting her book and speaking tour. Both her book and speaking engagements were based upon the wholesomeness of the character of Mary Ann as well as “Gilligan’s Island” as a whole.

TV Has Changed Since the Days of “Gilligan’s Island”

During the interview, the “Gilligan’s Island” star discussed how she hoped to be a wholesome guide to parents and friends. She noted that her character, the midwestern farm girl, was a great example for parents and kids alike.

During the show’s run, Mary Ann and The Professor had a very sweet relationship. However, there was never any hanky panky between the two. When asked about this, Wells said highlighted how different television was in the days of “Gilligan’s Island.”

Dawn Wells told the interviewer, “Back then there was never any romance. They couldn’t even show my navel. We’ve come a long way.” She added, “If we were doing the show today, we’d all be living in the same hut (laughs)”

She’s not wrong. It’s hard to imagine a show like “Gilligan’s Island” premiering on television today. Like many other classic shows, its wholesome characters and family-friendly plotlines just wouldn’t pull the viewership that it once did. The market is saturated with shows using shock value over clever writing.

Luckily, most of the classics are running in syndication, so we can still get a look at the good old days of TV.

Outsider.com