Lisa Whelchel, it’s been real, but your stint on Survivor: Philippines is already disappointing. You’ve brought none of Blair Warner’s flair to the proceedings, and you prove your Survivor cred is lacking with quotes like, “I can only play with the cards I’ve been given!” Guess who doesn’t leave their fate up to the “cards” dealt by other players? People like Parvati Shallow. Russell Hantz. You know, Survivor super-champs.
Thus, it’s time to think about which sitcom legends should join Survivor next. I love seeing TV stars of yore regain screentime, so this is a perfect opportunity to highlight other greats who 1) could slip by without the other contestants recognizing them, 2) are cooler than the anti-gay Whelchel, and 3) would be, uh, interesting. Here are our seven best options.
1. Dawn Wells (Gilligan’s Island)
This is my most controversial choice because Wells is both 73 and still very recognizable, but come ON. Her island savoir-faire must be rewarded with a trip on Mark Burnett’s savage version of a “three-hour tour.” Gilligan’s Island may be totally dated, but the spry Wells is ready to be challenged again.
Survival tactic: Dawn has real survival skills — remember how ingeniously she can peel a potato?
2. Glenn Scarpelli (One Day at a Time)
Calling all gay male One Day at a Time fanatics (as if there’s any other kind): When Glenn Scarpelli appeared onscreen as the orphaned, gregarious teenager Alex, did you immediately think, “Yep. That’s me up there.” Well, I did. Scarpelli’s precociousness was a worthy counterbalance to Ann Romano’s exasperation, and because he has natural screen presence and he’s out and proud, I say invite him on Survivor to redeem the antigay stench of Whelchel and Jeff Kent.
Survival tactic: How do I know he could fare well in Survivor’s arid climates? Duh: He lives in Arizona!
3. Danielle Brisebois (All in the Family)
Danielle Brisebois may have been a boisterous scamp as Archie Bunker’s pint-sized foil on All in the Family and Archie Bunker’s Place, but now she’s accomplished songwriter: For starters, she wrote Natasha Bedingfield’s two most recognizable songs (“Unwritten” and “Pocketful of Sunshine”) and one of my favorite obscure Kylie Minogue tracks (“I’m Just Here for the Music,” which Paula Abdul recorded and released in ’09). That is one canny former child star. Let’s see if she has the same killer instinct when it comes to finding immunity idols.
Survival tactic: With her band New Radicals, Brisebois proved she knew the value of working hard to achieve a reward. Isn’t that the point of “You Get What You Give”? Sort of?
4. Suzi Quatro (Happy Days)
If I’ve learned anything from Survivor: Philippines’ Denise, it’s that I love a no-nonsense, rugged woman on this show. Enter Suzi Quatro, Happy Days’ rock ’n’ roll chanteuse Leather Tuscadero, who’s actually been living a life of quiet, moneyed splendor in Essex, UK, where she still releases albums. I’d give anything to see her affable, sly mug on Survivor.
Survival tactic: If you can out-cool Arthur Fonzarelli, you shouldn’t have much problem currying favor in a tribe of misfits.
5. Danny Pintauro (Who’s the Boss?)
The 36-year-old Who’s the Boss alum-turned-Tupperware advocate came out 16 years ago, and like Whelchel, he abandoned acting altogether and seems pretty unconcerned about it (if his Twitter bio is any indication). Sure, his online hookup habits were once exposed, but whatever: Hooking up is a thing gay people sometimes do. Hooray for him. I want his darling grin to brighten up tribal council.
Survival tactic: If he could learn to wield an accordion for that classic episode of Who’s the Boss, Mr. Jonathan Bowen can also learn to build a fire. Also: He survived Cujo, didn’t he?
6. Eve Plumb (The Brady Bunch)
Eve Plumb, a.k.a. Jan Brady and — more importantly — Dawn of Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway, is kind of a bad-ass. Though her job on The Brady Bunch was to beam with inscurity, she’s showed some boldness in recent years. When fans asked what her favorite episode of The Brady Bunch was, Plumb deadpanned, “The last one.” Later, when she appeared with the rest of the living Bradys on an episode of Celebrity Weakest Link, she answered a question with the response “smegma,” apropos of nothing. Baller! Strap on your knapsack, Eve, we’re shipping you to Vanuatu.
Survival tactic: Strike up an alliance with George Glass.
7. Kellie Shanygne-Wlliams (Family Matters)
No real reason here. I think she’s one of the great underrated sitcom actresses (seriously, think of Family Matters without her) and deserves to be on TV. How do you like THAT, Carl Winslow?
Survival tactic: Buckets and buckets of stinkeye