Thanks to this week's Tank Riot podcast on Gilligan's Island, I discovered this delightful essay: "Here On The Island, A Scholarly Critique of the Style, Symbolism and Sociopolitical Relevance of Gilligan's Island," by Lewis Napper. Here's an especially lovely bit:
Without benefit of any huge bureaucracy or powerful tribunal, the castaways principally live in peace. More important than any traditional codification of laws is simply their collective treatment of one another. The series suggests that the key to successful life lies mainly in their own ingenuity to exist at ease with themselves, the elements and those around them. The peculiarities and blunders of each inhabitant are admitted and tolerated. Their differences are simply noticed and granted — not violently opposed.
Even this lofty theme is not the primary thesis. The story is actually about something much more fundamental. The most remarkable message of the tale lies in the paradox of the concentrated lust of the castaways — their burning desire to go back. Back to a time and a place that is more familiar and romantically remembered as "better."
The tragedy of the tale is not that they can never go back. The real affliction is the wish itself. They are all so preoccupied with the notion of going back that they never realize they are already in paradise.
A Scholarly Critique of the Style, Symbolism and Sociopolitical Relevance of Gilligan's Island