With Gilligan... Troy and Abed too... Ron Swanson... and Peggy Olson!
Could you recast 'Gilligan's Island' with the ensembles of current series?
Twitter can be a lot of fun. Twitter can be an enormous waste of time. Sometimes, it can be both.
Last night, while struggling with a review that I hope to be done with later today, I went on Twitter to try to clear my mind, and inevitably got distracted instead. It all began innocently enough. Tim Goodman was noting the rise of redheaded women on television, with the return of Christina Hendricks as Joan on "Mad Men," Mireille Enos on "The Killing" and the addition of Carice Van Houten as Melisandre in "Game of Thrones" season 2. After joking around about some kind of job swap — and noting that Christina Hendricks being on "Game of Thrones" would possibly shut down the internet, forever — I brought up the idea of doing a reboot of "Gilligan's Island" centered around Ginger Grant, since Bryan Fuller is already trying to do a darker spin on "The Munsters" for next season. The next thing you knew, Tim, Matt Seitz and I were starting to cast the thing, and at that point I decided to open it up to the Twitter-verse at large.
And while there were plenty of interesting individual suggestions — James Spader as Thurston Howell III, Michael Chiklis as The Skipper, Christine Baranski as Lovey Howell — what kept cropping up again and again was how easily you could take the casts of current beloved series and use them to play the seven stranded castaways without having to stretch too much. Here are the four that came up most frequently (and none should be a surprise, since they came from people who follow me and share some of my tastes):
"Community": Either Danny Pudi as Gilligan and Donald Glover as The Skipper or vice versa (both would make great Gilligans, but I think Glover would be a better Skipper, as Troy spends more time reining in Abed than the other way around), Chevy Chase as Thurston Howell III, Yvette Nicole Brown as Lovey, Joel McHale as The Professor, Gillian Jacobs as Ginger and — in the most frequent suggestion I got all night, regardless of who was being suggested for any other role — Alison Brie as Mary Ann.
"Parks and Recreation": I got many different iterations of this, but I'll go with the one Fienberg suggested, more or less: Chris Pratt as Gilligan, Nick Offerman as The Skipper, Aubrey Plaza as Mary Ann, Aziz Ansari and Rashida Jones as the Howells, Rob Lowe as The Professor and (eliminating his suggestion of just getting Christina Hendricks to do it, since I'm trying to stick with one show), Mo Collins as Ginger. (Unless you want to cast Amy Poehler as Gilligan, you can't necessarily have her in this, because, as Dan also pointed out, Leslie would get them off the island by the end of the first episode.)
"Mad Men": Hendricks as Ginger is the gimme. Either you double-dip with Brie as Mary Ann or go with Elisabeth Moss. Jon Hamm as The Professor. John Slattery is perhaps the perfect Thurston Howell, and I guess you use January Jones as Lovey. Vincent Kartheiser is Gilligan, and while no one in the main cast is an ideal Skipper, Joel Murray could step in and do it.
"Breaking Bad": This is both great and tricky. On the one hand, Walt and Jesse's dynamic is Skipper/Gilligan to a T. On the other, Walt seems like he should be The Professor, no? I could go either way, but given the other players available, we'll go with Ken From Chicago's set-up: Aaron Paul as Gilligan, Bryan Cranston as The Skipper, Dean Norris as Thurston Howell, Betsy Brandt as Lovey, Anna Gunn as Ginger and Giancarlo Esposito as The Professor. He suggests Emily Rios (Andrea) for Mary Ann, but I feel like RJ Mitte in drag could pull it off. He eats breakfast brilliantly; surely he can also be convincing baking coconut cream pies.
There is no point to this, except to note how easy it was to take the ensembles of four very different series and slot them into the roles made famous on this goofy sitcom that's almost 50 years old, with the actors often in roles that aren't incredibly dissimilar from what they play now. I don't know if that says something about the genius of "Gilligan's Island" creator Sherwood Schwartz — whose skill at crafting theme songs helped inspire my creation of TSORIS (Theme Song Over Remainder In Show) — who always said he wanted the show's ensemble to reflect a large swath of society (albeit white society in the early '60s), or if there's simply some kind of ideal combination of characters that's been baked into the collective unconscious of TV show creators and other dramatists over the last century.
But I asked, you answered, and here we are. The Internet, ladies and gentlemen!
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