Margot (Daphne Zuniga), Camille (Josie Bissett) and Nettie (Laura Leighton) bring a Melrose Place reunion to Fantasy Island to celebrate their 50th birthday, with the “The Big Five Oh” episode. Of course, on Melrose Place, their roles were Jo Reynolds (Zuniga), Jane Andrews Mancini (Bissett) and Sydney Andrews (Leighton). It’s been 30 years since Melrose Place first premiered in 1992 (it ran until 1999, with a short revival from 2009-2010). So, integrating the Melrose Place alums was guaranteed to be fun, with a cat fight or two thrown in.
Zuniga, Bissett, and Leighton have stayed in touch even after Melrose Place ended, so they seemed the perfect actors to make an appearance on Fantasy Island. Zuniga says, “We haven’t seen each other. We don’t hang out, so this was a real treat for that. Getting to know them even more now, it was great.” She admitted, “I didn’t want it to end.” While this might not be the throwback to the 14 million fans who once loved Melrose Place, it’s a great way to revisit the buzz of that favorite from three decades ago.
Daphne Zuniga: Margot on Fantasy Island vs Josephine (Jo) Reynolds on Melrose Place
On Melrose Place, Jo was a photographer who arrived at the apartment complex to escape her tumultuous relationship with Charles Reynolds, but quickly began a romance with bad boy Jake Hanson. Jo says, “I just broke up with my husband, what’s your excuse?” Over the course of the show, Jo is kidnapped and forced to kill a man (Reed) in self-defense. She gives birth to a child (Austin) by Reed and fakes the child’s death to keep him away from Reed’s parents. At one point, Jo wrestles the gun away from a bad cop and says, “What you didn’t know is that I am tired of being the victim!”
On Fantasy Island, Zuniga plays a very different character in Margot. She’s an overwhelmed mom of triplets, who gives to everyone without thinking of her own needs. Cam says that she’d told Margot to wait, that “the need to breed would pass.” But, then, Nettie had apparently used the line, “Life begins at mother.” So, instead of following Cam’s advice, Margot was artificially inseminated and ended up having three kids, which she now thinks might have been a mistake.
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Margot tells Elena Rourke (Roselyn Sanchez): “Nettie just made it look so easy. The whole entire world makes you feel like you’re not a real woman unless you mom it up.” She says, “I love my children more than anything in the whole world, but I’m tired all the time. Like soul-crushing, down to the bone exhausted. My fantasy is boring. It is. It’s just a little rest.”
Josie Bissett: Camille on Fantasy Island vs Jane Andrews Mancini on Melrose Place
On Melrose Place, Jane is a fashion designer and one of the superintendents of the apartment complex, with Michael. Her marriage to Michael is doomed because of conflicts in their schedules paired with his infidelity with Kimberly Shaw. So, Jane divorces her husband, which leaves the door open for her sister, Sydney, to move in.
Jane tells Sydney: “Because I think you’re trying to steal my life. Yeah, that’s what I think. I think you’ve always been jealous and now you see some kind of opening!” The relationship between the sisters is complicated even if Sydney was not trying to sleep with Jane’s husband. Despite their often-tumultuous relationship, the sisters join forces to plan the murder of Richard after he raped Jane.
But they also fight like sisters, giving each other well-meaning but mostly disregarded advice. Jane says to her sister: “Sydney, for the first time, you must face up to this. You have no friends left. Your probation officer is the only person who can help you.” And Sydney’s reply is: “Worry about your own responsibilities. That’s what I’m learning to do.”
Early on in the Fantasy Island episode, Cam says, “I am free and I don’t need a man or screaming triplets to validate my existence in this life. I am happy just the way I am.” Cam says, “You know they used to burn women like me. Childless, unmarried, smart. A woman who doesn’t need a man to self-actualize is a threat to the status quo. Well, I say, ‘Good,’ let ‘em come for me.”
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Cam says, “I’m happy and I’m so lucky to be where I am in my life. I’ve got friends that I get to turn 50 with on a beautiful island. Honestly, I’m good.” On Fantasy Island, she’s less the victim of her own ingénue and more a survivor of cancer and a woman looking to come to terms with a negative self-image.
Laura Leighton: Nettie on Fantasy Island vs Sydney Andrews on Melrose Place
As Sydney on Melrose Place, Leighton was another member of the original Melrose Place cast. She was an easy-going young woman who was Jane’s sister. Sydney’s occupations included that of an art dealer, boutique owner, landlord, waitress, prostitute, porn producer, stripper, and madam. Besides her colorful career choices, she was a blackmailer, she slept with her sister’s husband (Michael), and she was killed in a hit-and-run car accident at her wedding. She reappeared, very much alive, in the spin-off.
Sydney alternates between being a representative of a cunning criminal element and then doing a complete about-face as a victim in the third season. The creators seemed to be taking a more multifaceted approach to the characters. You can’t see any of the character as completely good or bad, but with qualities of both. Sydney’s controversial career choices often lead to others judging and misunderstanding her intentions. On Melrose Place, Sydney once told Amanda, “Don’t you ever get tired of falsely accusing people? Even the Lord rested on the seventh day.”
On Fantasy Island, Leighton is a different kind of victim. She plays a woman who seemed to have it all. She was a homecoming queen, who married her king right out of high school. She had a house in the suburbs, two kids, and it seemed like she had the perfect life until she discovered that her husband was cheating on her. She says, “Now I’m turning 50 and filling out dating profiles and trying not to drink every day.”
Elena asked, “So, tell me what can the island do for you?” Nettie’s reply is: “I want to be swept off my feet by a hot, successful man who adores me. I’m not asking for love, just to set a bar as practice for when I get back out there.”
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Although she thinks she wants an unencumbered fling, she comes to realize that what she needs is real connection and the willingness to explore a path of personal self discovery. So, at the end of their island vacation, Nettie revises what she wants from the future, saying, “I’m going to figure out what I want to do and what I want to be. 50 is not too old to find yourself.”
Changing The Story Of Three Friends
Each of the women is dealing with her own challenges, whether it’s recovering from a cheating husband and divorce, coming to terms with breast cancer survival and body image, or learning to let go of the self-imposed demands as a superwoman-mom of triplets.
In the reimagined relationship between the trio on Fantasy Island, they all come to realizations about themselves, what they need and what fulfillment will really look like. They all arrive on the island with visions of how the present might be changed or be made better. Faced by the reality of death and loss, it’s ultimately easier to take a step back and reevaluate what’s really important in life.
The question is: If you could relive a lifetime, would you do anything different? Fantasy Island prompts us all to reimagine our own stories, while watching these sexy and sordid fantasies come alive on TV. As Bellamy Young says, “The new Fantasy Island has been imagined, first of all, to include more stories…[It’s] a very specific lens on the old Fantasy Island but also it’s a little bit sexier, it’s a little bit darker, it’s got a little bit broader set of rules.”
It’s true. ✨
— Fantasy Island (@FantasyIslandTV) September 16, 2021
Have you been watching the Fantasy Island series on Hulu? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!
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