As a young white child living in rural Indiana, nothing was more fascinating to me than Gullah Gullah Island. I had never seen “island life” portrayed in this manner before. Life was like a party. They made it seem like they lived in The Bahamas or something, but apparently the show was shot on an island off the coast of South Carolina. Hilton Head perhaps? I only guess Hilton Head because I’ve been there a number of times and it would be my actual dream to say that I’ve been to Gullah Gullah Island.
The show was meant to teach very young children to problem solve, play nicely, and have fun with your family. At least I’m assuming that was their aim since that’s all they ever did. In the theme song, the audience is welcomed to Gullah Gullah Island by Ron and Natalie Daise, the mother and father of the show. They say weird island sayings like “put your foot in your hand” which means hurry up. Why wouldn’t they just save breath and save embarrassment by saying hurry up?
The show features Ron and Natalie’s real kids along with some fictional kids. The most famous of the children (and this is a bit of a stretch) is their on-screen niece who went on to later play Kenan’s younger sister Kyra on Kenan and Kel. I don’t know why they had to have so many kids pretending to be their own. Like, couldn’t their own kids play their children on the show and everyone else could have been neighbors or something? Did they really have to have their niece live with them? How many bedrooms did they have? Shouldn’t they be living in a shack since this is island life?
Perhaps the best/creepiest part of the show is the larger than life costumed polliwog named Binya Binya who lives in Ron and Natalie’s backyard. He talks in a weird voice, he’s yellow, and he’s the most obscure animal that Nickelodeon could think of, I’m sure. Binya Binya gave me nightmares for real.
There was a puppet featured on the show named Chansome (why?) and he was a comical pelican. He would usually come to their front window and talk to whomever was around. I just realize that Finding Nemo totally stole that idea. Yep, definitely where that idea originated from–Gullah Gullah Island.
The show was sprinkled with songs and Ron and Natalie would always greet the audience by saying “Hey der!” It was a cute idea and it was the first show made for young children featuring a black family. Ground breaking stuff here on Nick Jr.