Sep 8, 2014
Love Boat/Fantasy Island: Love Won't Hurt Anymore
Only when I was sick, studying for finals, or back in Rock Island for the holidays did I find myself staying home on Saturday nights.
And when I was home, I watched Gimme a Break, Love Sidney, We Got It Made, Magnum PI, anything but those nauseating anthology series, Love Boat and Fantasy Island.
But my parents watched. All of the older people watched.
A sports writer and a tennis pro, a minister and an exotic dancer, a chauffeur and his employer, a rock star and a deaf girl, a celebrity and a tabloid reporter, an advice columnist who can't find love, a magician who can't find love. It goes on like that. For 248 episodes.
But I understand that there were there were lots of guest stars in Speedos lounging around the Cabana Deck, like perennial 1970s fave Bert Convy (top photo).
In the early years, the fantasies involved nothing more than props and actors, as guests wanted to be Latin lovers or cowboys or movie stars. Later, Mr. Roarke was able to travel in time, conjure up ghosts and genies, and make a deal with the goddess Aphrodite to fulfill the guests' fantasies. The Devil even dropped by from time to time.
No gay people existed, but again, there were guest stars with their shirts off, like Bert Convy again.
I always wanted to ask the old people: why? Why do you need yet another dose of heterosexism? You've already married and reproduced, your life is nearly over (actually, in 1977, my Dad was younger than I am now). What's the "love, love, love!" brainwashing for?
An article in TV Guide explained: "Love Boat for people who live in Iowa and can't get dressed up and go out on Saturday night."
The dig at Iowa roiled me -- hey, we had four-star restaurants, opera, theater, and the symphony!
But I understood -- these Saturday night "love, love, love!" marathons were to keep them assuaged near the end of their lives: yes, yes, it was all worthwhile, hetero-romance was a worthwhile, noble goal, the only thing worth doing.
See also: Love, American Style and Ricardo Montalban.