must reads: “Why Is TV Suddenly Overstuffed With Buxom Bunnies, Sexy Stewardesses, and Charlie’s Angels?”

Gosh, it’s like the 60s — the early 60s — are returning with a vengeance. Sarah Seltzer at AlterNet serves it up

Buxom Playboy bunnies entertain suited, whiskey-swilling men at a private club. Lithe stewardesses offer men drinks as they fly the friendly skies. Charlie’s angels suit up in skin-baring outfits yet again, ready to take their boss’s calls and do justice in style.

These retrograde images from new shows “The Playboy Club,” “Pan Am” and “Charlie’s Angels” are the staples of a new season of television in which a post-“Mad Men” old-school aesthetic seems to pervade everything, but without the critique that darker, more nuanced show contains. “Mad Men” (for the most part) warns viewers that underneath the glamour there was a world of gross, painful injustice. These new shows at first glance seem to be imitating the fashion without delving into the finer points.

…and surveys the opinions as to why this is so:

The New York Times‘ Alessandra Stanley believes this television lineup reveals a perverse longing for a time when the problems facing women were easy to identify–and when women viewers today can consider them (for the most part) solved…

At the Washington Post, Hank Stuever warns us that this nostalgia-fest is in fact perilous for the culture’s ability to grow and adapt to our present reality and says the TV lineup is so bad he’s inspired to take up feminist arms himself…

Maureen Ryan at AOL TV looked at the numbers and asked around to find out why the number of women sitting around writers’ tables has plummeted in the last half-decade…

Thankfully, Seltzer also finds some shows to be optimistic about. Still, it all looks like a matter of one step forward, two steps back.

(If you stumble across a must-read link, feel free to email me.)

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