Gilligan's Island TV Poster Image

Gilligan's Island



Unique characters and situations drive classic sitcom.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The show is intended to entertain, not educate.

Positive messages

The show's characters come from very different backgrounds (though they're all white -- the only non-white characters tend to be "natives") and are forced to find ways to cooperate in order to survive. They make the best of their situation, using the island's natural resources in ingenious ways to create many of the comforts of home. Despite many setbacks, they maintain hope of being rescued and keep an optimistic outlook.

Positive role models

With the exception of the ultra-rich Howells, the characters represent positive qualities, including loyalty, empathy, optimism, and helpfulness. They aren't without flaws, however, and negative traits like jealousy, suspicion, and greed often surface. Most often, these emotions are clearly shown to be incorrect and unfounded. The Professor's ingenuity and resourcefulness can be inspiring. The Skipper is quick to berate Gilligan at every opportunity, but it's obvious he has affection for him, too.

Violence & scariness

There are aggressive (though silly) arguments, with some references to physical violence and slapstick humor such as punching or slapping.

Sexy stuff

Lighthearted sexual tension exists between some of the men on the island and Ginger, the bombshell movie star. Specific body parts are never mentioned, but there are references to her appearance ("dangerous curves," "36-24-36"). She also occasionally pours on seductive charm to manipulate the men.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic sitcom is intended solely for the purpose of goofy entertainment. Some positive themes resonate throughout (cooperation, resourcefulness, optimism), but there's very little here in the way of educational substance. Ginger's occasional use of sex appeal to manipulate her male island-mates may teach unwanted lessons about the power of physical appearance as a bargaining tool. Arguments on the show can be heated, though they're usually ridiculous and comic rather than serious and abusive.

What's the story?

Five passengers from varying backgrounds embark on an ill-fated "three-hour tour" aboard the SS Minnow with the Skipper (played by Alan Hale) and first mate Gilligan (Bob Denver) at the helm. When a fierce storm comes up, they find themselves marooned on a deserted island and forced to cooperate in order to survive. But they do more than just eke out an existence here; through ingenuity and resourcefulness, they manage to recreate many of the comforts of home, often to hilarious effect. Much of the series' humor derives from the characters' unlikely mixture of backgrounds and worldviews as they find themselves in one ridiculous situation after another. In addition to the blustering-but-well-meaning Skipper and the show's clownish namesake, there's the wise Professor (Russell Johnson), bombshell starlet Ginger (Tina Louise), the amusingly despicable millionaires Thurston and Lovey Howell (Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer), and down-to-earth farm girl Mary Ann (Dawn Wells). The show ran for a total of 98 episodes from 1964 to 1967.

Is it any good?


This classic sitcom is beloved by generations of kids and nostalgic adults. Social and political issues of the time (the late '60s were a volatile age) are largely absent due to the characters' isolation. However, many of the period's common media stereotypes are clearly visible through the dominance of its male characters, the homogeneous casting (only the "natives" aren't white), and the appearance of Russians as sinister spies (this was, after all, the middle of the Cold War.) Still, despite corny jokes and ridiculous situations -- or perhaps because of them -- GILLIGAN'S ISLAND stands the test of time as an oft-quoted favorite alongside The Brady Bunch, The Flintstones, I Dream of Jeannie, and Gomer Pyle.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the show's messages. Are there any? Is it important for media to make you think, or is it OK to just have fun sometimes?

  • Discuss the balance of power between men and women: Are men really the ones with all the answers? Does a woman's power exist only as a function of her physical appearance? How do you think Ginger and Mary-Ann might be portrayed differently if the show was airing today?

  • The ultra-rich Howells are depicted as insatiable schemers. Are all wealthy people greedy and manipulative? If not, is their portrayal a stereotype? Do you see any other stereotypes being portrayed on the show?

TV details

Premiere date:September 26, 1964
Cast:Alan Hale Jr., Bob Denver, Tina Louise
Networks:CBS, Syndicated
Topics:Adventures, Friendship
Character strengths:Teamwork
TV rating:TV-G
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written bypikpikcarrot July 17, 2012

A Great Show for the Family

Honestly, the only reason I'm not putting an all ages suggestion on this review is because I figured anyone under five would have no clue what is going on. I've been watching the series since it first came out on DVD in 2005, and it is a favourite in the household. Gilligan and the Skipper have some mild bantering, but you can tell that they are friendly to each other beneath the shouting. The Professor was always a role-model to me as a kid, as I always wanted to be some smart scientist or something like him. Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer do a great job portraying Mr. and Mrs. Howell, and while the may be stereotyped as rich snobs, they are also shown as good people at heart and a wonderful addition to the comedic aspect of the series. Ginger and Mary Ann are, like the rest of the cast, stereotyped, but not in a negative way. I could make a book with this review, but basically what I am trying to say is that this a good show for all ages, and should be a part of every household. Unless you're scared of the cheesy rubber suit spider in the third-last episode of the series, it's a completely harmless show.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byepicpenzzz February 13, 2016

Hilariously Obnoxiously Frustrating

I love this show, though it is sometimes annoying and decreases your IQ by 2 or 3 points for every episode you see.
Parent Written byalamoamy March 10, 2015

We love the Gilligan's Gang!

We have been watching GI as a family for about six months now and it never fails to crack my son up. Some of the storylines are dated, but it gives us a chance to talk about stereotypes.


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