Today, of course, reality television rules the airwaves. While Survivor and other examples of the eat-something-disgusting-and-win-a-prize genre may inspire only the most intrepid travelers, shows like The Bachelor are influencing the rest of us. After you've watched Bachelor Bob and his date du jour luxuriate in a private plunge pool on an island off the coast of Belize, what's stopping you from calling your travel agent?
Perhaps the most telling evidence of the connection between television and place is the fact that the Travel Channel has hired five members of the original Brady Bunch cast for an upcoming special on Hawaii. Sure, Hawaii Five-O and Magnum, P.I. bolstered our feelings about the islands, but it was the Brady kids and their misadventures during the three-part "tiki taboo" episode that sparked the flame.
Even today, Hawaii continues to reap the benefits of prime-time exposure, thanks to the bikini-clad bodies and soapy plots of FOX's North Shore, NBC's Hawaii, and the WB's Rocky Point. Glitzy locales are characters, and that makes a series a lure for travelers. Even Tom Cruise recently said that his earliest notions of Hollywood were based, in part, on The Beverly Hillbillies (the original sixties sitcom, not the proposed modern-day reality show). If a man who understands make-believe from the inside out can admit to being suckered, who can blame the rest of us for buying into the TV-travel fantasy hook, line, and clicker?