Life Lessons From TV Reruns

Times were tough when I was a kid: We didn’t have the Internet, so when it came to finding information on life’s most challenging questions, we were forced to watch television reruns.

From The Three Stooges, as an example, I learned lessons such as: Whenever possible, avoid walking into boards. Don’t make friends with people who look like a clean-shaven Adolf Hitler. Never, under any circumstances, allow a monkey to run loose on a train.

Gilligan’s Island was a trove of life-changing information. For example, I learned that within a three-hour boat ride of the Honolulu harbor there is an island that no one ever visits, except a surfer, gangsters (twice), a famous painter and a gorilla (all in season one!). I learned that if you are going to be marooned on an island with a couple of hot babes, it is best to go with a bunch of guys who apparently don’t like girls. I learned that not all fabulously rich women have had plastic surgery. I learned that a professor might be so smart and talented as to be able to generate electricity from a bamboo bicycle, repair a lost NASA Mars probe, harness geothermal energy and cure the Skipper’s amnesia, yet for some reason be unable to figure out how to patch a couple of holes in a boat.

I spent a lot of restless nights trying to decide whether I should marry Ginger or Mary Ann. I knew I was supposed to find Ginger more attractive, but I had never once met a girl who looked like Ginger, not even in junior high. Mary Ann, with her wholesome Kansas beauty, seemed far more approachable, though it was Ginger who was always causing Gilligan to freak out by trying to kiss him. “Kiss me!” I would cry if I ever got on that island.

I innocently asked my parents when we were going to Honolulu so that I could take my own three-hour tour to an island with beautiful, lonely girls. My father patiently explained that in real life, people went to Hawaii to relax and have fun, which of course means they didn’t take their children.

Speaking of beautiful women, what on earth was wrong with that Tony Nelson guy on I Dream of Jeannie? I would have married her just for the outfit! She aspires to serve him in every way and can blink him up anything he desires – money, power, affordable health care – and all he can think to ask is for her to leave him alone? Are he and Gilligan from the same family?

And again, the story of Jeannie’s and Tony’s relationship began on a desert island in the Pacific. Clearly, if I were going to find a girlfriend, I was going to need to get my hands on a boat.

At least over on Bewitched the guy married the magic girl, but I was severely traumatized when all of a sudden her husband was a different person – and nobody noticed. You think your family loves you, that your friends care about you? Think again – you can be replaced.

I Love Lucy was, to me, essentially the story of a loud-mouthed, untalented jerk who would never let his wife be in the show. Don’t worry, Ginger, when I write a movie, you can be the star.

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