Maureen Dowd had a good column about the upcoming fall season on network television, which features a lot of, well, let’s look at her headline: Corsets, Cleavage, Fishnets. She surmises, correctly, I believe, that the number of new shows about women in sexy outfits is a reflection of the anxiety that the increasing disparity between men in school and the workplace. “Mad Men” has presented viewers with the simplicity of a world in which women did not compete with men (and looked like Christina Hendricks). Dowd quotes a male producer:
All the big, corporate men saw Christina Hendricks play the bombshell secretary on ‘Mad Men’ and fell in love. It’s a hot fudge sundae for men: a time when women were not allowed to get uppity or make demands. If the woman got pregnant, she had to drive to a back-alley abortionist in New Jersey. If you got tired of women, they had to go away. Women today don’t go away.
And so, we have a series about stewardesses. Not flight attendants, but stewardesses, back in the days when airline fares were set by the government so airlines competed for customers with how alluring their stewardesses were. There is a series about Playboy bunnies, also set back in the good old days before feminism. Dowd says:
Set in mobbed-up Chicago in the ’60s, the script glories in “chasing Bunny tail” and opens panting: “The Door Bunny at the entrance to the Playboy Club. The ears. The tail. The satin. The breasts.” Bunny Janie’s “cleavage could pick up a salt shaker.” Our leading lady, Maureen, a Cigarette Bunny in corset, fishnets and stilettos, is described this way: “20, Norma Jean before she was Marilyn, an untethered, unconscious sexuality.”
We’re also getting a reprise of two old series with babes fighting crime: “Wonder Women” and “Charlie’s Angels.” “The remake of “Charlie’s Angels” that ABC is adding to its fall TV lineup is a masterpiece of subtlety,” Dowd says. “It takes at least 15 minutes before the three girls get wet.”
She notes that there are some promising series about smart, capable women on the schedule, too. But it will be interesting to see which shows win the ratings.