The original Charlie's Angels film was pretty problematic, and we need to talk about it.


It’s been 19 years since Charlie’s Angels was first rebooted (following the highly successful TV series), and oh boy, that film did not age well.

Nearly two decades on, it’s still a guilty delight to watch Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore kick arse, however, the scenes which once felt like an empowering display of girl-power now fall short.

For those unaware, the basic plot of Charlie’s Angels (2000) is as follows. Natalie (Diaz), Dylan (Barrymore) and Alex (Liu) work as detectives for a mystery millionaire named Charlie and his Townsend Agency. Together with their helper, John Bosley, they defeat bad guys, solve cases and look impeccably – if not horrendously – good while doing it.

Watch the new 2019 Elizabeth Banks remake of Charlie’s Angels, starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska. Post continues below.

Video via Sony Pictures

There’s a lot of hair flipping and inappropriate footwear, with bits of casual racism and stereotypes doused in.

Like most things, Charlie’s Angels was a product of its time, and if anything, it’s a clear sign of just how far we’ve come.

Let us present you a compelling, four-point case.


Unfortunately the 2019 remake of Charlie’s Angels hasn’t done so well, and Kee and Laura discuss why on The Spill. Post continues below.

It was evidently made for the male gaze.

A 2019 re-watching of director Joseph McGinty Nichol’s Charlie’s Angels makes it very evident that despite being a film about three women, it really was a film made by men, for men.

Charlies Angels original 2000
Cameron Diaz, why are you driving the getaway yacht in a bikini??? Image: Sony Pictures.

Without even considering the Bechdel test - which requires at least two women to talk to each other about something other than a man - the Angels are a symbol of male fantasy.


We know this to be true because there are way too many scenes where the Angels are showing an unnecessary amount of cleavage, which is 100 per cent not conducive to crime-fighting.

Charlies Angels original 2000
Need we say more? Image: Sony Pictures.

'Cultural appropriation' was clearly not a thing in 2000.

Multiple cultures were most definitely offended by parts of this movie.


Charlies Angels original 2000
The Japanese and Chinese are two different Asian cultures, neither of which were tastefully represented in the film. Image: Sony Pictures.
Charlies Angels original 2000
The 2000s were clearly a confusing time for entertainment. Image: Sony Pictures.
Charlies Angels original 2000
The entire country of India is offended, and rightfully so. Image: Sony Pictures.
Charlies Angels original 2000
Germany also isn't happy. Image: Sony Pictures.

We rest our case.

Lucy Liu's character wasn't as empowering as I remember her being.

19 years ago, seeing a woman of colour in a leading Hollywood, blockbuster role was revolutionary.

From playing a 'sexy masseuse', dragon-lady teacher and being Bill Murray's arm candy at an 'oriental-themed' cocktail party, Alex's disguises are a running list of Asian stereotypes.

And the 'ick-factor' is very present.

Charlies Angels original 2000
Was the whip really necessary? Image: Sony Pictures.

A ditzy female trope was in full force.

There's a scene in which Natalie goes undercover as a cocktail waiter, where she begins to flirt with 'boring party goer number three' (otherwise known as Pete). And by flirting, we mean viewers are forced to watch Diaz make bumbling, awkward conversation that is nothing like the smart and independent woman that she is.


Charlies Angels original 2000
Simone de Beauvoir just rolled over in her grave. Image: Sony Pictures.

It goes something like this:

Boring party goer (BPG): Thursday?

Natalie: My favourite day!

BPG: I'm going to get tickets

Natalie: I love tickets!

For some unknown reason, he's kinda into it.

However, all is resolved when Alex tells her to "flip her goddamn hair," and lo and behold it works. Let's just say watching Diaz flip her hair to the sound of a gong definitely set feminism back by approximately 327 steps.

While it's easy to criticise pop culture in retrospect, a silver lining exists. For all its failures, the movie only feels so wrong because we now know better. It's 2019, and thankfully, we're a lot more woke.

We know to avoid gender stereotypes and demand diverse representation. It clearly wasn't always the case.

Now go and watch Elizabeth Banks' Charlie's Angels. It's in cinemas now, and it's the female-led remake we all need and deserve in our lives. Promise.

You can watch Charlie's Angels (2000) on Stan, Youtube and Google Play.

Have you recently watched the 2000s version of Charlie's Angels? What did you think?