When only four percent of scripted TV shows feature LGBT characters, what’s a gay girl to do? Why, strap on your gay goggles and watch TV along with us, of course! Our handy appraisal scale is better than any old letter grade. Other sites A+. We say, “What about our lezzy-lady feelings?”
Every fall TV season, professional critics pluck a single pilot out of the pile and beat the absolute hell out of it. This year, it was Charlie’s Angels they used for batting practice. In all my years of writing about television, I have scarcely seen a pilot episode abused more. It was almost like there was some kind of contest going on to see who could write the nastiest review. When I sat down to watch Charlie’s Angels last night, my expectation was: seventh circle of Hell. But you know what? It wasn’t so bad.
I realize “not so bad” isn’t exactly a glowing review, but in comparison to everything else I’ve read, it’s practically like giving it an Emmy.
Feminists have always had trouble collectively pegging Charlie’s Angels. I mean, let’s just get this out right away: The original Angels — heralded though it is now as a bastion of grrl power — was really an excuse to dress up hot women in skimpy outfits and watch them run around doing the kinds of things hot women do in skimpy outfits. I know it hurts your nostalgic sensibilities for me to say the Angels were objectified, but there wasn’t a dorm room in the late ’70s that didn’t boast that Farrah Fawcett red swimsuit poster on the ceiling.
There was plenty of objectification in the rebooted movies, as well, but they pulled it off brilliantly by taking the camp to eleven and making the Angels’ relationships with each other central to the story. They weren’t used by men because they were sexy; they leveraged their sexiness against men, who were mostly portrayed as pathetic horndogs, to get what they wanted.
What I’m saying is: There’s a bit of inherent sexism in the whole Charlie’s Angels concept. (They take orders from a man in a box! Can you get anymore Mad Men than that?) But, played correctly, it can actually be the kind of sexy, empowering thing that lesbian ladies go nuts for.
Unfortunately, this Charlie’s Angels hasn’t found that equilibrium yet. I mean, yes the women are gorgeous. And yes, the women are badass. But they’re also one-dimensional and kind of boring.
FEELINGS, FEELINGS, FEELINGS!
The main feeling I had while watching Charlie’s Angels was: Jeepers H. Christmas, is this thing taking itself WAY too seriously or what?! If you’re going to do this show in 2011, you’ve got to play up the camp. You’ve just got to. There’s a way to hit absurd with the action and authentic with the emotion. Chuck does it. Pretty Little Liars does it. Doctor Who has been doing it for about seven centuries.
But oh, the Angels had feelings. They lost Gloria in an explosion about 10 seconds into the episode, and their feelings were, rightly, tears, tears, tears. And then Eve showed up and their feelings were revenge, revenge, revenge. But then they solved the mystery and their feelings were, “Our best friend died 20 minutes ago, but meh, we’ve got yachts and champagne to feel feelings about now. Hooray for Angels!”
I kind of think grrrl power is the only thing Charlie’s Angels has going for it right now, and on that front, it did pretty well. Sure, the fight scenes were generously edited to make them more exciting, but I’m all for one lady taking out seven men with rocket launchers. Which brings us back around to camp. That’s camp. Why not embrace it and make the show watchable with it? There was plenty of hand-to-hand combat, gun play, and sexy car driving in the pilot. More of that can only be a good thing.
TRAIN WRECK QUOTIENT
There’s no denying that many, many, many Americans like to watch sh—y TV. I mean, you guys, Snooki is a millionaire. Maybe Charlie’s Angels will be that show everyone watches every week so they can mock it. Honestly, the writing was so clunky at times not even the actresses could be fussed to deliver it properly. I like Minka Kelly as much as the next person (and well done on that white tank top), but the way she she just sort of half-smiled through what was meant to be heart-wrenching dialogue? It made Eve look like a sociopath. Which would probably be better, actually. A sociopathic Angel would make things interesting at least. You know what else would be an improvement? An Australian Angel. As in letting Rachael Taylor use her real accent. Her American accent is Not Good. And also, her comedic timing? Not Good. A bummer since she was supposed to carry the entire pilot episode.
I feel like I talked myself into hating this show while writing the recap. But, like I said, it’s not horrible. The concept is obviously playable, and it could be tweaked to be so much better.
I’ll give the next few episodes a chance. How about you? Did you like the pilot? And are you on board for more? Could it get better? Or do you love it because of its train wreck potential?