Charlie’s Angels : An example of a controversial feminism

Imagine your life as a woman working in a world driven by men. You are a secret agent working in a fast-paced, dangerous industry. In current time this would be seen as no big deal. In the past; however, women didn’t have the chance working in a man’s world.  Once the 1970s television started gearing towards the Liberation Movement, we see the incline in women power. Charlie’s Angels was the first television show to depict women in a role only men would have been seen before. “In the decade of the feminist movement, Charlie’s Angels was the first detective series to feature three female leads.” (Gale, 2012)

“Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to the police academy. And they were each assigned very hazardous duties but I took them all away from all that and now they work for me. My name is Charlie.” – Those were the famous words that started each episode for 5 seasons. (Charlie’s Angel, n.d.)

This high crime and drama series starred three sexy women actresses: Farah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn Smith. These girls were otherwise known as the original Charlie’s Angels. Kate Jackson starred as Sabrina Duncan, Farah starred as Jill Munroe, Jaclyn Smith starred as Kelly Garrett, and John Forsythe was the voice of their boss, Charles “Charlie” Townsend.  (Weiner, 1992)

“Charlie’s Angels’ demonstrated that girls could grow up to be women who controlled their own destinies without looking like we just mowed the lawn and scrubbed the floor.” (Westerfield, 2009) This show allowed women to be viewed as powerful, sexy, and independent; however, many feminist critics saw this show as non-feminism.

My Perspective: I wanted to highlight this show as a part of feminism because it was viewed as a negative aspect of feminism and a positive aspect. From my point-of-view, I see this show as a way of feminism to a degree. It showcased these women through success, power, and owning a man’s job. The critics believed this show was anti-feminist because it showcased these sexy women in an unrealistic way. (Westerfield, 2009) Their idea of this perfect figure, beautiful hair, and great fashion was too Barbie-like for a feminist.

I can see the point to those critics, but feel the idea of a strong, independent, and career focused woman was the main message from this show. I believe it was a show of feminism.

About the actresses: Farrah Fawcett was an American actress and star of Charlie’s Angels for the first season. Fawcett was a sex symbol and an international pop culture icon. She died of cancer in 2009. (Farrah Fawcett, n.d.)

 

 

 

 

Kate Jackson is an actress, director, and producer. She is best known for her role as Sabrina Duncan in Charlie’s Angels. She has been nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe Awards. (Kate Jackson, n.d.)

 

 

 

 

 

Jaclyn Smith is an actress and businesswoman. She is best known for her role as an angel in Charlie’s Angels. She was the only original angel through all 5 seasons of the show. (Jaclyn Smith, n.d.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie’s Angels. (n.d.). TV.com. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from http://www.tv.com/shows/charlies-angels/

Farrah Fawcett (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farrah_Fawcett

Gale, T. (2012, September 26). Best of Farrah Fawcett. Pop Culture Tales. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from http://popculturetales.com/tag/charlies-angels/

Jaclyn Smith (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaclyn_Smith

Kate Jackson (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Jackson

Weiner, E. (1992). The TV guide TV book: 40 years of the all-time greatest. New York, NY: HarperPerennial.

Westerfield, L. (2009, June 25). Farrah Fawcett: an American feminist icon – Kansas City Literature | Examiner.com. Examiner.com. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from http://www.examiner.com/article/farrah-fawcett-an-american-feminist-icon

Three’s Company- co-ed living, sexuality, and independence

“Come and knock on our door…

We’ve been waiting for you…

Where the kisses are hers and hers and his,

Three’s company too.”

(Three’s Company Lyrics – Theme Song Lyrics, n.d.)

http://www.tvland.com/video-clips/threes-company/three-s-company-theme-song 

Three’s Company, a comedy that was based on the British sitcom Man About the House, aired in March of 1977. (Three’s Company, n.d.)  This show starred Jack Tripper played by actor John Ritter, Janet Wood played by actress Joyce DeWitt, and Chrissy Snow played by actress Suzanne Somers. Something not seen in the past was woman and men living together. These three shared apartment 201 in Malibu, California. (Three’s Company- Wikipedia, n.d.) Jack was a chef and found himself unable to afford an apartment by himself. He ran into Janet (a florist) and Chrissy (a secretary) looking for a new roommate. In society, it was seen as a bad thing to have co-ed living situations if you were not related or married.

 

The landlord of the apartment complex, Stanley Roper, was like many people. He didn’t believe in co-ed living. With his strict policy, Jack told him he was gay. “When it first aired, the notion of a man sharing an apartment with two women who weren’t relatives was novel; having the man also pretend to be openly gay made it racy and groundbreaking. This was titillating stuff for 1977.” (Three’s Company, n.d.) Having such a controversial living situation and the openness of sexuality was a change in television. This was a path for change and moving towards a more liberal society. (Three’s Company, n.d.) Along with showcasing independent, workingwomen, this show brings to light more liberal issues involving Jack.

My perspective: Growing up in a liberal household with options and freedom, as a woman has been a blessing. I reflect back on the past and the struggles women had to go through to get where they are today. Every show during the 1970s that reflected change and took risks helped the efforts of the Liberation Movement. Women wanted to be independent, work, and have a voice. Three’s Company not only showcased those independent women, but it brought up topics of gays and living co-ed without a marriage certificate. I think those are powerful topics to showcase to America. Liberation means change and it means opportunities to be who you want to be. I think this show helped bring those issues to the forefront.

About the main characters: John Ritter was an actor, comedian, and a voice-over artist. He was born in 1948 and was best known for his role as Jack Tripper in Three’s Company, which he won an Emmy and Golden Globe for. He died suddenly in 2003 while starring in the ABC hit 8 Simples Rules. (John Ritter- Wikipedia, n.d.) 

 

 

 

 

 

Joyce Anne Dewitt was born in 1949 in Wheeling, West Virginia. As an actress, she was best known for her role as Janet Wood in Three’s Company. (Joyce DeWitt –Wikipedia, n.d.)

 

 

 

 

 

Suzanne Somers was born on October 16, 1946. She is an actress, author, singer, and businesswoman. She has written self-help books and is known for her roles as Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company and as Carol Lambert on Step-by-Step. (Suzanne Somers- Wikipedia, n.d.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Ritter. (n.d.). Wikipedia- The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ritter

Joyce DeWitt. (n.d.). Wikipedia- The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyce_DeWitt

Suzanne Somers (n.d.). Wikipedia- The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzanne_Somers

Three’s Company. (n.d.). TVland. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://www.tvland.com/shows/threes-company

Three’s Company -Wikipedia. (n.d.). Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three’s_Company

Three’s Company Lyrics – Theme Song Lyrics. (n.d.). Lyrics On Demand. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/threescompanylyrics.html

Laverne & Shirley Incorporated – the power of womenhood

You may remember the chant: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated,” followed by the theme song “Making Our Dreams Come True.” This famous TV show opening came from the classic comedy of Laverne & Shirley.

This show, aired on ABC in January of 1976, was a comedy that showcased two single women from Milwaukee. Actress Penny Marshall played Laverne DeFazio and actress Cindy Williams starred as Shirley Feeney. (Laverne & Shirley, n.d.)  This spin-off comedy of Happy Days reveals that the two friends knew Fonzie (character on Happy Days). (Laverne & Shirley, n.d.) Laverne and Shirley worked in a Milwaukee brewery called Shotz Brewery. (Laverne & Shirley, n.d.)

Laverne & Shirley was set in the working environment. (Marcus, n.d.) The two single women, worked hard in the city to make a living for themselves. Although this show was based in the fifties, it showcases the idea of feminism. (Marcus, n.d.) The show may not have been set in the 70s, but it aired throughout the 70s. During this time, feminism was popular and the movement towards power for women continued. “Laverne and Shirley’s toughness and willingness to flout social convention could be viewed as either working class, feminism of 1970s icons Mary Tyler Moore and Barbara Walters thus could be enjoyed form a multiplicity of viewing positions.” (Marcus, n.d.) This show allowed women to see the power of womanhood.

It was not common for woman to hold such roles as independent, working assets to society. This television show allowed audiences to see that side of a woman. Most women took the backseat and allowed men to provide for them, especially the married women. Obviously, Laverne and Shirley did not need a man to help them survive. Their independence and friendship with one another stood strong enough.

These two characters allowed that voice of strength and power for women to be heard. Through a time of change, this show helped reflect the Liberation Movement by showcases those qualities that men were only viewed to obtain in the past.

My perspective: When reflecting on the iconic show, Laverne & Shirley, I find myself relating to these characters. They were hard workers trying to enjoy life. As a college student working my way through school, I can connect to the idea of feminism and the workingwoman. Without the Liberation Movement and TV shows like Laverne & Shirley, I wouldn’t be able to be as independent as I am today. These shows helped pave the path for women and promote opportunities and rights for women through the changing time.

 

About the characters: Penny Marshall was born in 1942 as Carole Penelope Marshall. She is known as an actress, producer, and director.  As Laverne DeFazio, she was nominated for three Golden Globes. (Penny Marshall, n.d.)

 

Cindy Williams was born in 1947 as Cynthia Jane Williams. She is best known for her role in Laverne & Shirley and her role as Laurie Henderson in the classic film American Graffiti. (Cindy Williams, n.d.)

 

 

Cindy Williams, (n.d.).  Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 27, 2012, from www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cindy_Williams

Laverne & Shirley. (n.d.). Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 27, 2012, from www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laverne_and_Shirley

Marcus, D. (n.d.). Happy Days and Wonder Years: The Fifties and the Sixties in Contemporary – Daniel Marcus –      Google Books. Google Books. Retrieved October 27, 2012, from  http://books.google.com/booksid=ru2lJyJXU44C&lpg=PA29&ots=56xFPLewLi&dq=laverne%20and%20shirley%20and%20feminism&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=laverne%20and%20shirley%20and%20feminism&f=false

Penny Marshall, (n.d). Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 27, 2012, from www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_Marshall