She’d heard of it — being as her writing career took off when she went undercover as a bunny in one of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Clubs and wrote about the deplorable working conditions. Steinem was reserving judgment until she saw it. “Are they aggrandizing the past in a nostalgic way, or are they really showing the problems of the past in order to show we have come forward?” she wondered, correctly surmising the former. In tough times (tough economies), she said, people tend to seek solace in glossy paeans to yesteryear.
Later, Steinem apparently watched “The Playboy Club” pilot, which, among its other throwback (and throw-up) moments that aggrandize that place and that time, includes a line in which a male character tells another: “You’re the only man I know who puts his hand up a girl’s skirt looking for a dictionary.”
Steinem issued this raspberry via an interview with Reuters: “Clearly ‘The Playboy Club’ is not going to be accurate. It was the tackiest place on Earth. It was not glamorous at all. . . . I hope people boycott [the show]. It’s just not telling the truth about the era.”
* * *
Lasting heartbreak awaits anyone who looks to TV shows to tell the truth about much, but God bless Steinem for believing it can.
Truth, of course, is the opposite of the reason most of us watch TV. Digesting 27 of this fall’s new dramas and comedies over a few days of marathon watching has had the strange effect of turning me into even more of a sideline feminist, although I don’t know what to do with that or how to articulate it in a way that doesn’t quickly make me sound like I’m doing Steinem drag.
On the plus side, women write and produce and star in more TV than ever. But if the only women you ever saw were those on these shows, you would have a hard time believing that a liberation movement had ever occurred.
It’s all bunnies, baby dolls and broads — and bridezillas and bimbos, if you get into reality TV. It’s still giggles and jiggles.
My, the jiggles. This season’s uncalled-for retread of “Charlie’s Angels” (co-produced by Drew Barrymore yet entirely absent the ironic panache of her 2000 big-screen version) brings the word “jiggle” back into play, though with the 21st century’s predilection for gymnastics and martial arts. This has the effect of making the jiggle seem more lithe and elegant, but it’s not the curves that have gone jello-esque — it’s the brain stem. How is it possible that a “Charlie’s Angels” in 2011 would make the “Charlie’s Angels” of 1976 look like Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”?