After Sherwood Schwartz, the man who created and produced Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch, died on Tuesday, fans flocked to the internet to express their appreciations for the fallen TV icon. "Both were derided by critics as kitschy failures. But fans adored the corny jokes and groan-worthy gags, and the simple-minded shows endeared themselves to a nation beset by civil-rights struggles and a war in Vietnam," said a Washington Post obituary. "If living well truly is the best revenge, then Sherwood Schwartz enjoyed boatloads of it," say the editors of the Calgary Herald. Here, a rundown of the best editorials from this weekend's papers about what made Schwartz's work so phenomenal:
His shows were deeper than they appeared: "Gilligan is the perfect democratic hero because he has no claims to superiority. The Professor has wisdom; the Millionaire has money and social status; the Skipper has a kind of military authority as captain. Gilligan is the pure common man," says Paul A. Cantor in the Washington Post. "And, of course, the only time the castaways hold an election, he is chosen as president. Throughout the series, Gilligan represents the triumph of the ordinary over the extraordinary."
He hit at the right time: "And The Brady Bunch was even more heroic," says Jeffrey Lee Puckett in the Louisville Courier-Journal. "Does anyone think it coincidence that the show ran for the entirety of Nixon's presidency, bowing shortly after he took office and ending as Watergate was raging? The show was canceled but it had no reason to go on. Schwartz had done his job, distracting us from our first undiluted peek into the horror show of American politics with 22 ridiculous minutes a week of teen angst and weird sexual tension."
Their richness makes them so good: "Indeed, to love these shows now as an adult is to some unavoidable degree to love them ironically," says Robert Lloyd in the Los Angeles Times. "Suggesting more than they ever state, they are ripe for speculation and parody, and so they go on and on in the culture, as ideas, even as the series themselves rerun in the world. Somewhere right now someone is watching an episode, and laughing."
And in their simplicity: "We assume a certain sophistication among kids today, in part because they're growing up with iPad apps and KidzBop songs, armed with cellphones and remote controls. They have so many choices, when it comes to entertainment, that the standard response has been to scream at them, offering fare that's ever-flashier and louder, more outrageous and more unreal," says Joanna Weiss in the Boston Globe. "But maybe we've overestimated how worldly or wowed kids need to be in order to be entertained. That was Sherwood Schwartz's genius, in the end. He knew that all he had to do was tell people, 'Here's a story.'"