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Published on March 22nd, 2012 | by Hermia


Do Over: Charlie’s Angels

“Once upon a time there were three beautiful girls who went to the police academy and they were each assigned very hazardous duties. But I took them away from all that and now they work for me. My name is Charlie….”

Now you stop that eye rolling immediately. I know for a lot of you Charlie’s Angels conjures up vile images of Cameron, Lucy and Drew dancing around in their underwear and being thoroughly ridiculous in every way, but I’m here to put you straight. Those movies were spittle in the face of every true fan of The Angels.

Jill Munroe, Sabrina Duncan and Kelly Garrett – the three women who inspired a generation of girls and aroused a generation of boys.

Sure there were other angels – blow-ins to fill up space – but those three were the original and best.

Each of them represented a different type of girl. Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith) was the beautiful ‘girl next door’ – kind, soft-spoken and smart, but still tough. She was the girl who every girl wanted as her BFF and every guy just wanted. Jill Munroe (Farrah Fawcett) was the ‘sex symbol’ with a killer hair flick that became the staple hairstyle of every teenage girl during the late seventies and early eighties. She was girly and sexy, came across as a little dim and never stopped flirting. She could also skateboard like a pro and fleece men at poker, just in case she wasn’t irresistable enough, but I’m guessing these skills were thrown in just so her spy job was a little more believable – yes she’s innocent and a stereotypical dumb blonde, but she has a secret athletic side so maybe she’s not all she seems. Finally there’s my own favourite, Sabrina Duncan (Kate Jackson) who was the ‘tomboy’ – book-smart, nerdy and a little goofy, but with a kickass sense of humour.

The story is that each of the women was a talented police officer *cough* yeah right *cough cough* but had been underappreciated in the chauvanistic force and made act as traffic wardens and receptionists, until the elusive Charlie rescued them, put them in pretty dresses and made them part of his private investigation firm.

The series itself was always a little counterproductive. The selling point behind the show was that it was a TV series for the modern woman who was tasting liberation and loving it -here was a show about badass female spies who were smart and beautiful and could take down a group of bad guys without breaking a nail. It was supposed to kill the idea that only men did these jobs at a time when Bond was spying and shagging his way around the world.

The problem here was that producers were trying to make a popular show to empower women at a time when men ruled and here is where the show falls down. In order to get the men in charge to pump money into the series, they were forced to hypersexualise its stars. And as it sought to crush the female stereotype, it saw the girls go undercover as playmates, exotic dancers, fashion models, nurses and cheerleaders. Jill was especially abused in this capacity and spent most of her time in hotpants acting like an airhead. She was also almost guaranteed to be the girl that needed to be rescued in every episode. You could argue that the writers put the girls in these stereotypical roles on purpose and used the male criminals’ own prejudices against them – a sort of middle finger to male chauvinism as they say “here’s what happens if you underestimate us”.

But the reality is probably more adjacent to the ‘sex sells’ theory.

Regardless of the feminist undertones – or rather lack-thereof – Charlie’s Angels is fantastic. It’s entertaining escapism in its purest form in a way that only The Seventies could do. Whether they’re posing as inmates in a prison or as race car drivers, they keep things light, crack jokes, wear great clothes and always get their guy. Sure, they’re pretty much handed their clues and it’s normally blatantly obvious from the start of each episode who the bad guy is, but it’s still excellent Popcorn TV. At the end of the day, its sheer ridiculousness is what makes it so appealing – it’s the kind of show you can laugh at and with.

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