By S. Jhoanna Robledo,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Not-too-gritty '70s crime drama is campy, nostalgic fun.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Good versus evil and the importance of fighting for justice is highlighted here. So is looking sexy while doing it.
Positive Role Models
The Angels are great examples of strong female characters for the '70s, but simultaneously reflect sexist stereotypes.
Violence & Scariness
Guns are drawn (and, gasp!, even shot) in the Angels' pursuit of justice, but the action is very tame for modern times.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
They may walk around in skimpy bikinis and miniskirts while solving crimes, but the Angels are rarely in serious romantic entanglements -- that is, anything serious enough for them to do more than kiss.
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Products & Purchases
Nothing memorable, except maybe Farrah's trend-inspiring 'do.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Many of the cases revolve around drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Charlie's Angels is a classic crime drama starring three women who work for an unseen boss, Charlie. It was considered quite risqué for its time, given the subject matter and skimpy outfits, but now reads as a campy classic with some pretty dated ideas about women as sex objects. That said, it's a fun watch for teens who like retro crime shows like Magnum, P.I. and its ilk. Families definitely have the opportunity to talk about what's changed since this series came out, and how the subsequent movies treat the characters as well.
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What's the Story?
CHARLIE'S ANGELS is a series about three women who work for the Charles Townsend Detective Agency. There's brainiac Sabrina Duncan (Kate Jackson), sultry and sporty Jill Munroe (Farrah Fawcett), and savvy Kelly Garrett (Jaclyn Smith).Their unseen boss, Charlie (voiced by John Forsythe), relays each episode's case via the now-quaint intercom. Assisting them is the warm and fuzzy John Bosley (David Doyle), who makes sure the Angels stick to Charlie's rules as they go about solving crimes.
Is It Any Good?
Once upon a time, this classic '70s crime series ruled the airwaves, goosing TV's sexiness and paving the way for other female-driven vehicles. Charlie's Angels was the first in producer Aaron Spelling's formula for primetime TV revolving around soapy plot lines that hook viewers. These light plot lines make for refreshingly frothy escapades -- a nice, though not deep, escape from the often-grim procedural drama of today's shows (no gross-out CSI-type forensics work, enhanced by dreary lighting, here). That said, it's hard to take any of the Angels' cases seriously. Just a few of the over-the-top storylines: One of the Angels suffers temporary amnesia, an escaped convict spoils a cruise, and all three play bodyguard to no less than Sammy Davis Jr. But it's clear that serious detective work is beside the point.
The concept of the Angels as eye candy is dated and sometimes hard to watch through a modern lens, though it's all done in the spirit of sunshiny -- this is L.A., after all -- adventure. On the plus side, they're also providing examples of strong, capable women. Later on in the series' run, when the original cast broke up and Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack, and Tanya Roberts joined in, Charlie's Angels lost some of its magic. Jackson, Smith, and Fawcett had wonderful chemistry, and when their balance was upended, some of the show's charm was lost. In the end, the show that came in like a lion left like a lamb, but its place in TV history is secure. Anyone who doubts its legacy need only look at some more-recent small-screen hits, including Desperate Housewives, to gauge the Angels' long-term legacy.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how times have changed when it comes to crime and the TV shows that tackle the subject of crime. Does it seem like life is more violent now than before, or is that just what TV would have us believe?
Why are crime shows so popular? What drives people to commit a crime? How does having different personalities working on a case together make crime-solving more effective?
What are your opinions about that funky 1970s fashion sense? Do the Angels' outfits seem realistic to their work?
- Premiere date: September 22, 1976
- Cast: Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, Kate Jackson
- Networks: ION, Syndicated
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: January 10, 2023
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