“Charlie’s Angels” (1976-1981)
“Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to the police academy.”
It is true that the whole set up of the “Charlie’s Angels” show is a bit patronizing. The title itself suggests these women are Charlie’s personal Playboy bunnies. But there is a twist on the whole “sexy-detectives” theme – these three indisputably gorgeous women are actually police-trained private investigators who could have you in a headlock just as quickly as they can hairspray their fantastic Farrah Fawcett locks.
“And they were each assigned very hazardous duties.”
Cut to the girls as traffic warden, crossing guard, and typist respectively. Throughout the series, this show continually calls out the double standards so many women were facing at the time. Not only does the intro suggest that the police force under-utilized their talents, but as the women pose in different roles throughout the show, they are constantly having to reaffirm their abilities as so many of the people they meet and have to work with assume that they aren’t capable simply because they are gorgeous. Drop. Dead. Gorgeous. It’s an unfair world…
“But I took them away from all that, and now they work for me. My name is Charlie.”
Again we have the “alpha male swoops in to save struggling women” innuendo. But really this is the kind of support the women’s movement needs from men, especially from men in positions of power. These men can help break down the double standards by employing talented women to perform duties at the level of their capabilities. We also need men to stand up like Charlie did and call out agencies, like the police force, military, as well as in the fields of business, technology, and science, for their lack of vision where women are concerned.
I love all the 70s TV shows that turned me into a feminist, and “Charlie’s Angels” is definitely one of them. I always related best to Sabrina, who always felt was the cleverest, and the most like a leader. She was also a bit of a tomboy, which meant she got to wear the awesome power-pant suits instead of the mini-skirts. Despite the #EverydaySexism the three girls experienced each season, they always confronted the patriarchy with a strong sense of personal agency. Then they whooped the patriarchy’s butt!
Who is your favourite angel, and what is it about her that makes you feel more empowered as a woman?