How ahead of its time was TOS?

Gene continually tended to ‘his’ women: regulars, guest stars, and extras. Obsessively involved with their costumes, their hairstyles, their makeup – and even their footwear – he created a look best described as ‘available sexuality.’ Their costumes were as scant as possible, designed for the maximum display of breasts and legs. Yes, actresses were chosen for their acting talent, but voluptuous lips and seductive eyes were very important to him. And in most instances, the characters they portrayed were emotionally subordinate to the men of Star Trek. 

Women were, essentially, sex objects always ready for action. And they were the antithesis of the actresses starring in the other dramatic television series of that era: Barbra Bain (Mission: Impossible), Amanda Blake (Gunsmoke), Barbara Anderson (Ironsides), Stephanie Powers (The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.), and of course Barbara Stanwyck (Big Valley), all playing characters of substantial independence and distinction.

Everyone had a role in Gene’s future world. And for Gene, a woman’s role was primarily as a decorative tool in a man’s workshop

Herb Solow, in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1996 (p. 226). Solow was the Executive in Charge of Production at Desilu for the first two seasons of TOS. 

I love many of the TOS women characters, and think some of them were quite strong, but I appreciated Solow’s comparison to other shows of the time, that had recurring women characters in more prominent, independent roles. It shows such a thing was possible to create and sell, even in the 60s, that the era wasn’t the only thing that contributed to TOS’s representation of women.

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