giandujakiss: (Default)
[personal profile] giandujakiss
The original TV series. And honestly, every time I rewatch I have different political feelings about it.

Right now, they are mostly positive feelings. And I think I've posted about this before, so forgive me if I am duplicative.

The show was derided - even at the time - as "jiggle TV," relying on the sex appeal of the actresses and putting them in exploitative costumes to cater to male fantasies (nurse, women's prison, maid, etc). And there's some truth to this - the women's prison episode is, well, less-than-subtle. But what's also true is that the vast majority of the time, the costumes were, well, pretty modest. The Angels were fully clothed, often in multiple layers (sweaters on top of shirts, etc), and anything else is just what the viewer brings.

Another problem is that the Angels almost go out of their way to be as soft-spoken as possible; it's really obvious on first watching. It's like a palpable feeling that someone felt that if the Angels raised their voice to anything above a mild murmur, they'd be viewed as harpies. And you can do that in fiction - women can speak softly and still be heard and respected by the men around them - but in real life, people ignore women, and especially ignore soft-spoken women. It's a trap; women can't speak uniquely in dulcet tones and expect to actually be heard.

But then there are the positives.

The first - and I'm always surprised by this in 70s and early 80s media, though I shouldn't be - is the sexual sophistication of the women. That's something we lost, along the way; in modern media you can be a likeable slut but usually that means you're the best friend, not the heroine. The 70s and early 80s actually weren't like that; women could be interest in sex, even casual sex, and still be heroines. It's not in-your-face in Charlie's Angels, but it's definitely there; that all of the Angels are sexually experienced is not even in question.

Second, the woman are extremely competent. If you've got a competence kink, this is your show. They are extremely skilled at physical tasks, going undercover, pumping suspects for information, etc. And they are absolutely fearless, and without embarrassment - they do what it takes to get the information they need, regardless of the enemies they might make or temporary humiliation they may endure.

Third, the show is really about women bonding with women. The Angels themselves are portrayed as being closely emotionally bonded, and very often, they bond with the episodic female guest stars. Women are their clients, or are mixed up with the villains, and the Angels are incredibly supportive; a lot of time is spent on women's stories and the basic idea that women defend other women. The concept may have been intended to appeal to men's libido, but the women-centric nature of the show is inescapable.

So, you know, you go Charlie's Angels- you were an important milestone in pop cultural portrayals of women, despite the haters.
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