Gavin MacLeod believed that The Love Boat was an escape for viewers
It wasn't just a cruise ship and show; it was happiness for many.
Sometimes when things happen in real life that people need to take a break from, they watch the lives of fictional characters on their favorite television shows. Seeing characters enjoy themselves on a cruise with many guest stars seems like a fun way to escape reality, and it's one of the many reasons The Love Boat was a success.
In an interview with the Associated Press in 1985, Gavin MacLeod spoke about how the "happy endings" in the series' episodes contributed to being that perfect escape for viewers.
"I think when life gets heavy, people look for an escape," the actor began. "We're an escape. We have happy endings. You don't see many of those around. I think it gives people a vicarious adventure. We're also very much like a travelogue."
MacLeod, who played Captain Merrill Stubing, also thought the show allowed fans to see a different side of their favorite stars. Many of the numerous major guest stars played roles differently than they were known for, similar to old anthologies like The Twilight Zone.
"One quality we have is surprises—the kind the old anthologies had. You see Eva Gabor on our show, but you don't know what she is going to do," he added. "Bonnie Franklin with us is entirely different than One Day At A Time. Steve Allen, Polly Bergen, Loretta Swit, Pearl Bailey, [and] Don Adams, they can play against their image. Even my wife, a dancer, doing comedy!"
The show had a lot of influence on the popularity of cruises, too. According to the article, the show changed the face of the cruise business, and it made tours look more appealing and cruise food more appetizing.
During the interview, MacLeod expressed his gratitude for the series. "I'm grateful [for] the show. Nine years of steady work, seeing the world. It's awesome when you see the unemployment among actors," he said.