Off Brand: Moving to Whidbey not unlike Gilligan’s Island

“Oh my gosh – man overboard!” These are the first words out of Bob Denver’s mouth as the eponymous goofball in the pilot episode of “Gilligan’s Island.” Thinking he’s saving the Skipper from drowning, he jumps the boat like a rash madman and lands on remote island sand. This is the first of Gilligan’s good-intentioned actions that end with him taking the fall for something that went awry.

Gilligan jumping out of that boat was a bit like moving to Whidbey Island, except we willingly drove here from Ohio and the closest we’ve come to scavenging has been shopping at Saar’s Super Saver Foods. Still, when my girlfriend, Rachel, was offered a job at the Whidbey News-Times, I seized the opportunity to tag along and pretend that our situation was anything like “Gilligan’s Island.” Parallels exist everywhere if you watch enough television.

We have one car that’s decidedly not mine most days. This 2005 Honda Accord may not be as iconic as the S.S. Minnow, but my inability to drive throughout the week often feels synonymous with being shipwrecked; that is if being shipwrecked is anything like the inconvenience of not having a car. Sure, I could walk places, but so could Gilligan.

At the end of the pilot’s first act, Skipper forces the heights-averse Gilligan to climb up a coconut tree to get a better vantage point, only to find that they are the few inhabitants of the island. This sounds exactly like how Rachel forces me to do things I’m intimidated by just to get a look at stuff that does me no real good. Nevertheless, I’m happy to climb up a coconut tree if she finds joy in my doing that.

Gilligan is the least qualified man for any job. This is what he wants you to think. If he weren’t feigning incompetency, he’d have figured out transportation by the end of the pilot, thus barring the show from syndication. But Gilligan likes the island – and that steady paycheck – so he haplessly fumbles every opportunity to leave it. I’m Gilligan if he worked remotely and made problems for himself to fix. Two words: job security.

Canned laughter is a staple in both “Gilligan’s Island” and my apartment when Rachel gets home to read something I worked on all day.

In later episodes, guest stars show up and leave without bringing the main cast along with them. Since they decide to name the island after the guy they take the most issue with, I suppose that plothole gets a pass. Though we’ve had visitors, they’ve never taken me with them either. I’m starting to understand this show.

“It’s Gilligan’s fault we’re stuck on this stupid island!” Gilligan believes he is the harbinger of bad luck because people tell him that he is, but the real truth hides under the bucket hat: He likes being stuck on the island. I believe I’m like Gilligan just because I’m on one, too.

Brandon Berry is a curious newcomer to Whidbey Island who doesn’t like trying things but will often try them anyway.