Goodness, the ’60s are looking awfully alluring these days. The TV world has fallen hard for them, thanks to Mad Men: And while neither of that show’s biggest new imitators, Pan-Am and the now-cancelled Playboy Club, come close in quality drama, Pan-Am is still a technicolor world of fun and intrigue. Meanwhile, Anna David’s delightfully breezy new memoir, Falling for Me, chronicles her efforts to get out of the singleton doldrums by following the advice of the ’60s blockbuster advice book Sex and the Single Girl, by Helen Gurley Brown. David was so enamored of Gurley Brown’s throwback advice that she ignited a little blog controversy by positing that “women had it better in the ’60s” in on online post.
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!