Fittingly for the star of a series that came on the air in the ’60s, Dawn Wells has just made her debut as a YouTube star with "Dawn Wells Tries Trends," a precious four-minute video that features Wells trying out Tinder, juicing, emojis, selfie sticks, and other memes that may have reached their height a couple years ago. The actress played Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan's Island, the prototypical ingénue and domestic goddess from Kansas, and this video shows that she's still got it.
Her experiments with contemporary culture are adorable — she takes a stab at brunch, EDM music, and runs through her romantic exploits during her brief stint on Tinder. "He'd probably take me for a hamburger and a soda," she says, before exclaiming, "It's a match!" (If I matched on Tinder with someone in my first 45 seconds, I might not have deleted it — "Not bad," she says.) Her interpretations of emoji are even better — "Is there a class for this?" she asks. (I wish, Dawn.) But no, the smiling poop emoji is not the top of a hot fudge sundae, and this is the first time that I've heard the praying hands being described as "phallic." I get it, though.
The best part of the emoji bit is that she's not really emoji-ing — there's no iPhone in presence, and she just put her iPad away following the Tinder adventure. It's a meme repackaged, declawed, removed from its signifying setting. It would be easy to invent new meanings for the images totally devoid of context, and the video subtly nudges us that we, too, invent ways that the emoji cannon can be repurposed for other meanings. Just think about that eggplant (one of the emoji that escaped Wells's commentary, unfortunately).
She hams it up even more for the brunch portion of her experimentation, sipping delicately on a mimosa and examining an omelet before deciding, "It's a good thing I didn't have this on the island, or I never would have fit into those short-shorts!" This serves as a brief reminder that Gilligan's Island is still beloved and relevant — the series recently returned to air on TV Land — but her antics are meme-able as a stand-alone.
Pop culture provides endless fodder for the kind of self-referential humor that Wells shows here, and she has a kind of gleeful response to each of the trends that serves as a reminder that "Charlie Bit My Finger" is still totally hilarious. She's latched onto a few of the most tenacious ones — pizza rat is already descending from his 24-hour display in the spotlight, while the brunch cult is forever. But Dawn, there's an emoji for that, too.
Check out the full video below for the scoop on dating apps, selfie sticks, and coconut cream pie — and how on earth those things are connected.
Images: Warner Bros. (2)