Maybe it’s not possible to spoil a TV program that has been so universally panned by the critics as Charlie’s Angels. But the new offering from ABC doesn’t even premiere until tonight, so I’d like to give it the benefit of the doubt for a little while.
Here’s some of what you can expect in tonight’s opening show, together with some of what the critics said about it. If you long for a return to the 1970s kitsch and are dying to tune in to the opener of Charlie’s Angels tonight, you probably should stop reading right now.
It seems that almost all the critics who have seen the show think it is a poor imitation of the 1970s show, and worse, maybe even offensive. But let’s see, shall we?
On the face of it, the kick-ass savior trio of Charlie’s Angels should speak to just the kind of girl power we espouse today. But one problem with putting the show on in the 21st century is that we like out nostalgia unadulterated. It’s a tough ask for a remake to live up to the popularity of its original. And Charlie’s Angels was hugely popular in the 1970s.
There we may have hit upon a second problem. The 1970s was a very different decade than this one. Women’s liberation was in its infancy. It was impressive enough that they were in the workplace; they didn’t expect equal treatment and they didn’t get it for a while. They were still highly sexualized in the mass media, even if it wasn’t quite with the nudity of today. And because men were not also turned into ripped and toned hunks to offset this female sexualization, it was all the more potent. It was even the focus of some programs.
Charlie’s Angels stems from that era. Three young women (young in those days counted as mid-20s to early-30s before you could be seen to be a major protagonist on TV) were picked from the police academy for special missions. But they couldn’t do it alone. They had to have a middle-aged man, Bosley, to help them. Even though he was pretty inept, he was a reassuring figure for the three girls.
And of course, their boss was Charlie. He retained even more power by being only glimpsed in the 1970s show. He issued orders and praise to his Angels, while drinking cocktails by the pool or reclining in his leather office chair. He was usually a disembodied voice, but when he was partially seen, it was being massaged or otherwise tended to by scantily clad female beauties.
Can you see yet why Charlie’s Angels isn’t your obvious choice for a 2011 remake?
But as if this was not bad enough, critics reference the appalling acting, most obviously from Minka Kelly. Now, I don’t know if it was usual in the 190s to act tongue in cheek, but Charlie’s Angels seemed to me to do that. They knew they were being patronized and they knew they were better than that. But theirs wasn’t a bad life and they put up with it.
But they never, it seemed, took themselves too seriously. That seems to be the heinous crime committed by the actors in the 2011 version.
It has been accused of making Jersey Shore look like Shakespeare. It’s not something so bad it’s actually awesome, the critics say. It’s just bad.
So, do you hanker after the 1970s? Will you be tuning in to the Charlie’s Angels premiere 8pm tonight on ABC? It would be interesting to know if there’s a male/female split in viewers’ reactions to this new show. It would also be interesting to find out whether anyone under 40 watches it!