Fantasy Island (2021)

a woman in a white suit

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Emily Clark

TV Series Review

Welcome to Fantasy Island, where you can live out your wildest dreams.

Here, the water is bluer, the air is sweeter and the grass actually is greener.

But if you come to the island, be prepared, because while you might think you know what you want, the island knows better. And things may not turn out exactly how you imagined.

Miracles and Fantasies

Elena Roarke and her family have been guardians of Fantasy Island for generations. It’s her job to not only make people happy but to truly help them heal from their pain by teaching them lessons they can’t learn in the real world.

Nobody outside of the Roarke family is really sure how the island works. But things here are pretty magical.

If your fantasy is to eat and eat without gaining weight, you’ll find your favorite foods in unlimited supply—and for zero calories.

Or perhaps you’re like Ruby, who originally came to the island as an old woman with a terminal disease. The island will grant you back your health and youth—at least for the duration of your stay.

But these solutions aren’t miracles; they’re fantasies. Elena knows that her guests’ desires are superficial and temporary. So she guides them on a journey to discover not just what they crave,but what they need.

Reboot, Rebirth

Created as a sequel to the 1970s series of the same name, Fantasy Island attempts to teach guests (and, by extension, viewers) some important moral lessons.

Elena uses the magic of the island to accomplish some pretty remarkable feats (just like her white-suited ancestor, Mr. Roarke). But this drifts into some pretty murky territory regarding the concept of “rebirth.”

For instance: Elena invites Ruby, who will re-age and die if she leaves the island, to stay forever.

After discussing it with her husband, Ruby takes the offer. She wasn’t planning to return from her trip anyway, and this way, she gets a second chance at life (though it will separate her from her husband and children forever as well).

And while this is painted as a good thing, it feels a bit like Ruby might have sold her soul into service of the island.

Language can also get a little dicey, though it steers clear of harsher profanities. And violence can be surprisingly disturbing. (In the first episode, a woman goes to a “pig roast” where her verbally abusive stepfather is being grilled on a spit. She allegedly eats him before learning the next day that the man actually died several years before.)

Sex is another hiccup in the series. (This is nothing new since Mr. Roarke often dealt with sex fantasies in the original series.) But in this reboot, Ruby is bisexual, and we see quite a bit of skin when couples get busy.

So while the series talks about “rebirth,” its moral compass is still far off from the Christian concept.

Episode Reviews

Aug. 10, 2021: “Hungry Christine; Mel Loves Ruby”

A hungry woman and an elderly couple come to the island hoping for a vacation from their troubles, but they discover lifelong freedom from their burdens instead.

The island’s magic causes food to appear out of nowhere. It also allows a woman to travel into her past to watch scenes unfold. After going through a waterfall, a couple magically regains their youth. A tattoo magically grows, turning into an image of snakes.

A couple lies in bed only covered by sheets. (They talk about having sex.) Ruby dances sensually with another woman and allows the woman to undress her for a tattoo, and Ruby’s husband realizes Ruby likes women. (Though a subsequent discussion reaffirms that Ruby does love her husband, she chooses to stay on the island while he returns to their family—a choice he supports since she will die if she returns.) Couples kiss and dance. We see several scantily clad women and also flashes of skin as women get dressed. A man compliments his wife’s rear end.

People attend a pig roast where a man is being cooked on a spit and, apparently, eaten. (Though we later learn this was a magical  illusion, and nobody committed cannibalism.)

Flashbacks show a woman’s stepfather making negative comments about her crooked teeth and weight when she was a little girl. In the present, we learn that the woman has suffered her whole life from a fear of weight gain and consequently starved herself to remain thin.

We learn a woman has pancreatic cancer and she says she’s a “goner.” A mother on her deathbed talks to her daughter about the future.

We hear about the societal standard for women to remain thin and young. A woman says she wants to end to her life but is too scared to try. People drink and use drugs (which Elena says are “safe”). Someone is called a “heifer.” We hear uses of “d–n,” “d–mit” and “h—.”

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Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

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