The fall TV season is underway and, despite the ever-lower numbers of women in the writers’ rooms, it’s being hailed as the year of the women: 17 out of the 25 new scripted shows on the Big Five networks are female-centered and many were created by women. In this series, comedian Leila Cohan-Miccio watches the new female-centered shows and evaluates how realistic their portrayals of women actually are. Up now: Charlie’s Angels
Charlie’s Angels doesn’t just want to have it both ways, it wants to have it all the ways. It wants to do serious stories about the sex trafficking of underage Latin American orphan girls and have sexy hijinks. It wants to show strong women and have those women show total submission to a voice on a telephone. It basically wants to be Law & Order: The Playboy Club.
Not surprisingly, this blurriness of vision results in a show that’s a little bit of a mess. Who is this show for? If it’s aiming to capture the sort of jigglehounds who would have watched the 1970s original, lose the sex trafficking plot. If it’s aiming for women, don’t have it be so sexist. It was one thing in the 70s to have these three women treating Charlie like their dad, wearing matching outfits, and being watched over in their day-to-day lives by Bosley (because god forbid women supervise themselves! Everyone would just be drinking cosmos and getting manicures!), but in 2011, it feels gross, in a Girls Next Door way.
There are other, non-sexism related issues: of the three angels, only Minka Kelly has any charisma and, though she remains extraordinarily pretty (I just want to touch her hair. That’s not weird, right?), why is she (and the other two angels) dressed and styled so unflatteringly? Who pissed off the stylists? As Bosley, actor Ramon Rodriguez (known to you as Omar’s later-seasons boyfriend on The Wire) is real hunky, but not terribly interesting. While I thought it was hilarious that there was a Russian villainess named Nadia (who has photographic memory — between this and Unforgettable, is Cam Jansen in charge of television development this season?), it didn’t seem like the show realized how dumb and campy and funny it is to have a character so stereotypical (like, just go full Rocky and Bullwinkle and call her Natasha).
Charlie’s Angels looks very expensive and the fight scenes are awesome. Will that be enough to make it a hit? I don’t know, but I’m not really planning to stick around long enough to find out.