Femme TV

What separates the girls from the women in fall's new shows

ABC

The premiere episode of ABC's jet-age drama Pan Am makes the case that in 1963, working as a stewardess was liberating for women. Up to a point. Back when the glass ceiling was reinforced with concrete, they could have independent, glamorous lives and travel the world--until they turned 32, got married or decided they no longer wanted to wear the mandatory uniform girdle.

The stewardesses' situation is a metaphor for women in prime time, 2011. Women, long the majority of viewers, are now the majority of the stars or main characters in new series. But like the engirdled flight attendants of...

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