There are a lot of shows whose plots revolve around the idea of being stranded on a desert island. Without even thinking about it, you can think of Gilligan’s Island, Survivor, and Lost.
Now, I don’t really get any of those shows. Gilligan’s Island, despite having sparked the age-old dilemma of Ginger versus Mary Ann, was ridiculous on so many levels that whole books can be written about it. What compelled the millionaire and his wife to take a three-hour tour on a not-particularly-luxurious Minnow, when he clearly states in the show that he owns at least four yachts? Why did they bring so many clothes? Why was Ginger on that boat, and why in an evening dress? Where did Mary Ann get the pie plates for the numerous coconut cream pies (and just who supplied the cream?) she baked, and where did the Largely Unnamed Professor get his Bunsen burners?
And exactly why did the crew of the Minnow ignore the weather report?
Survivor also leaves me cold. I know there are people who just love this show, and if you can tell me what there is to love, perhaps I can understand. There’s always that one deserving old guy who could take care of any problem that arises, thanks to his superior education or years of military experience. There’s always some mousy and undeserving female who rises to the top of the heap by walking around in what amounts to a tube top and dirty knickers. I know it’s a game, but who thinks of the ridiculous and often dangerous-in-a-stupid-way challenges that these people are required to complete? I saw one episode in which contestants were run over by a giant medicine ball they were trying to push up a hill and another in which people who couldn’t swim were forced to swim underwater obstacle courses.
The backbiting and infighting is mildly entertaining to watch for a brief period of time, though quite frankly, the show becomes a lot less interesting when either the most deserving or the most annoying contestant get voted off the island.
As for Lost, I watched it along with the rest of the world for the first season, but now it’s just gotten too bizarre. Remember Twin Peaks back in the day? That’s the way this is. Just way too many unclear plotlines for a person with a life outside their Sony plasma to follow – when it gets that complicated, it’s just time to say ‘no.’ This show, like all the other stranded-on-an-island show, has the advantage of lightly clad women wielding machetes, but really, I’ve kind of stopped rooting for them to be rescued. The plain fact is that I don’t want to find myself living next door to any of them.
I do think, when I watch these shows, about the kinds of things that I would want to have on island should I become marooned. Certainly matches – and preferably a Zippo lighter – would be on the top of my list. Warm-weather clothes, cool-weather clothes, raingear, a sleeping bag, a tent – or a yurt – would be in my bag. Aspirin, antibiotic cream, canned goods to feed an army – these are all among the obvious, right?
However, if somehow I were stranded with just my wits and what I had on, I would hope that I’d have a watch – I could use the crystal to attract light and build a fire with twigs and sticks. A belt with a good strong buckle could be useful both as a weapon – I could beat a chicken into submission with it – and as a tool to tether things together. My tie could be used for fishing and to tie things up, and my socks could be used to strain water.
The item of apparel that I wear all the time, however, that would set me up as the fittest, in the Darwinian sense, is my ever-present pair of cufflinks. I might be fortunate enough to have on my compass cufflinks, which would help me navigate, or my level cufflinks, which would help me build a sturdy, square shelter or even a raft to get off the island.
Even if I just had on my sterling silver monogrammed squares, I’d have the advantage of a mirror-like surface to start fires and a T-shaped back which could be used to clean fish or pry things open.
And think of Mr. Howell. He had to be the lamest of the castaways on Gilligan’s poorly landscaped island, but he was treated with respect. You might think that was because of his money, but there was no money on the island – there wasn’t even a Starbucks. Conclusion: being the best-dressed castaway has its advantages.