Television genius, Sherwood Schwartz, died this morning, and along with him, a bit of my childhood.
I grew up watching two of his most popular shows—Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch. For thirty minutes each show, less if you count the commercials, I was able to pretend what life must like marooned on a desert isle after a three hour cruise. Or with the click of the channel (yes, in the old days we had clickers instead of universal remote controls) I could imagine myself living in a split-level house where the mom stayed home and Alice, the uniformed housekeeper, baked cookies and tidied up the jack and jill bathroom.
You see, I had none of those things. New immigrants from the Philippines, my family lived in a two bedroom/one bath apartment. Our Mom and Dad worked most days and trusted our neighbor Anya to warm up an afterschool snack. While Mary Ann and Ginger’s banana and coconut cream pies—a menu staple for every Gilligan’s Island feast--must have tasted delicious, I had to make do with a bowl of Campbell’s. We also weren’t allowed to play outside unless our parents were home, which sucked since they often didn’t end work until after dark.
My brother and I entertained ourselves with reruns on Channel 32.
Mr. Schwartz was often criticized for presenting a far-fetched view of life, even for simple comedies. Somber minds asked: If the castaways could piece island parts to create battery operated radios, why couldn’t make a raft to get off the darned island? Couldn’t the Brady siblings see past Jan’s story of George Glass? Why did Mrs. Brady have a housekeeper anyway?
Armed with a half-full attitude, I didn’t care about any of that, though I often wondered why Ginger packed so much for a short day cruise. Through Mr. Schwartz’s shows, I could escape to an island in the middle of the Pacific where the castaways drank cocktails out of bamboo, the farmer girl was indeed prettier than the movie star, or to the bustling Brady House full of kids and the occasional guest star. Desi Arnez, Jr? Joe Namath? Even Mr. and Mrs. Thurston Howell, III were given time off the island to guest star!
For all that I have to credit the man that created these shows. RIP Mr. Sherwood Schwartz. And thanks for the childhood memories.