September 8, 2011
Stewardesses, bunnies and angels: Fall’s femme-centric TV lineup—but is this a woman’s world?
Fall TV’s retro reversal in female roles is scintillating on the surface but causing a stir among critics.
TheWrap.com declared “The Return of Jiggle TV” with three shows in particular—“Pan Am”, “The Playboy Club” and the inexhaustible “Charlie’s Angel’s”—whose selling point seems to scream sex. Judging these shows by their billboards, a woman’s figure constitutes her forte.
On the surface, this obsession with an earlier era, when gender roles were more clearly defined, seems a bit nostalgic. Weren’t things glamourous then? Wasn’t air travel easier? Feminist icon Gloria Steinem, who famously infiltrated the Playboy world as part of an investigative piece for Show magazine called for a boycott of the NBC drama. “Clearly ‘The Playboy Club’ is not going to be accurate,” Steinem, who went undercover as a Playboy bunny at the New York City club in 1963, told Reuters. “It was the tackiest place on earth. It was not glamorous at all.” Steinem also said, that unlike “Mad Men” which depicts the 60s with “some realism”, she thinks the fluffiness of the Playboy Club “normalizes a passive dominant idea of gender.”
“t normalizes prostitution and male dominance,” she said.
And in male-dominated Hollywood, harking back to the Cold War cool of the 60s is relief from reality. In the smoky nightclubs of Chicago, or the darkened, liquor-scented restaurants of Manhattan current anxieties about power and control brought on by the economic crisis are forgotten. Sense is dulled by the ubiquity of the sensual.
I explored some of these themes in an interview with Nancy Ganis, the co-executive producer of “Pan Am” who herself was a Pan Am stewardess in the 1960s. Rather than objectify women, Ganis said the clear-cut gender roles of the 60s set boundaries and encouraged respect.
Read the rest here.