5 Feminist Shows to Watch This Fall

This fall’s crop of new network TV shows certainly has the ladies in mind — from sitcoms to crime dramas to 1960s-set dramas (thanks for that, Mad Men!), every network seems to have turned into Television for Women. But just because a series has female main characters doesn’t make it feminist; yes, that means you, Playboy Club and Charlie’s Angels. Here, our seasonal picks for the most female-friendly shows on the dial:

1. Pan Am (ABC): What Playboy Club botches, this drama about stewardesses in 1963 gets right. The show gives us a look at one of the few ways women then could use their feminine wiles to buy themselves some real freedom — by taking to the newly friendly skies. But it also doesn’t deny the sexism inherent in the process — Pan Am girls had to be beautiful, could be grounded for not wearing their girdles, endured weigh-ins, and had to quit at 32 or when they got married. Also a plus: It’s good, soapy fun, with affairs, broken engagements, and even undercover-spy flight attendants!

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SF Talking Points: Mary Tyler Moore Gets Lifetime Achievement Award for Being Awesomely Feminist

TV’s Original Sexy Feminist Makes It After All: Our beloved Mary Tyler Moore will be honored with the Screen Actors Guild’s lifetime achievement award in January. We second the nomination, incidentally: Moore revolutionized the TV housewife as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show in the ’60s, daring to be a mom and spouse who was not only sexy and smart, but — gasp — wore capri pants instead of house dresses. She went on to make the world safe for single ladies as the excruciatingly loveable Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. (Loveable even as she prioritized career over marriage, took the Pill, and even stayed out all night on occasion.) She proved pretty girls could be funny, then she proved that a funny woman could act the hell out of a part (in her Oscar-nominated role in Ordinary People). Need any more proof? If it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t have Tina Fey or 30 Rock.

Can Feminism and Conservatism Ever Co-Exist?: Not if Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin are going to be its poster girls. We’ve gone over both of their feminist shortcomings ad nauseam (for recaps click here and here), but here’s something to add to the top of the list: Bachmann calling the ultimate anti-woman activist, Phyllis Schafly, “the most important woman in the United States in the last 100 years.” ThinkProgress kindly gave us their list of 10 Women More Important Than Phyllis Schafly in response, which includes the likes of, oh, you know, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham. And Betty Friedan. And Rosa Parks. We are so totally for Christian women — and all spiritual women, and all women — joining the feminist movement. (Though we’re not so into Chirstian women “taking back the feminist movement,” as the Christian Post says, unless we’re allowed to stay in the movement and still back abortion rights.) But it’s never going to work with Bachmann and Palin leading the charge. Sorry.

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