Sep 8, 2014

Charlie's Angels

You've got to be kidding.  What interest would gay boys or men have in the 1976-81 drama about three women (originally Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn Smith) who graduated from the police academy, found their talents underutilized by a patriarchal system, and went to work as private detectives?

Who use their brains to solve the murders and their brawn to knock out the bad guy?

Who go undercover in health clubs, spas, cruise ships, and other places crowded with men wearing only towels and swimsuits?

That's why.

1. There was quite a lot of jiggling, but there was also an immense amount of beefcake.

Where else could you see game show host Bert Convy in a speedo?

Or Dirk Benedict take off his Battlestar Galactica uniform?

Nearly every hunk in Hollywood guest starred, and usually took off his shirt: Timothy Dalton, Bo Hopkins, Tab Hunter, Randolph Mantooth, Vic Morrow, Dack Rambo, Tom Selleck, Robert Ulrich, and Lyle Waggoner.

Even Norman Fell, Mr. Roper of Three's Company.

2. Several episodes featured predatory lesbians, swishy-queen gay men, or demented transvestites.  But that was the way LGBT people were nearly universally portrayed in 1970s detective and cop shows.  And the homophobia was diluted by the gay-vague Bosley (David Doyle), the Angels' longsuffering assistant.

3. In the end Charlie's Angels was about empowerment, saving the day in spite of people assuming that you were weak, flamboyant, feminine.

4. And, like The Golden Girls,  it was about the friendship.

Most of the Angels are gay allies. Kate Jackson starred in Making Love (1982), which featured the first positive portrayal of gay men in a Hollywood film.

Farrah Fawcett, who died in 2009, was unfailingly gracious to her gay fans.

Jaclyn Smith played the mother of a gay son in Family Album (1994).  Incidentally, her husband was played by Michael Ontkean, Kate Jackson's husband in Making Love.