Picks and Pans Review: After the Sexual Revolution

updated 08/04/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/04/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ABC (Wed., July 30, 8 p.m. ET)


By ABC's reckoning, it's been two or three decades since the tide of the war between the sexes took a hard turn, so the time has come to look at how we have withstood, in anchor Peter Jennings' words, "this untidy revolution." That's a good idea for a show, but that's not really what this three-hour docuspecial is. Instead of telling us how feminism has changed our world, for better and for worse, Revolution settles for the worse. Not once did I hear somebody stand up and say how her (or his) life is better thanks to feminism—a side of the story I'd expect in a progress report. Instead, husband-and-wife correspondents Richard Threlkeld and Betsy Aaron look at how women are blunted from promotions and raises at the top and bottom of the organization chart, at how there are more divorces and fewer virgins today, at how too many children are being raised by mothers who are suddenly poor because they're suddenly single and at "a national scandal" in child care. Although Threlkeld and Aaron too often rely on nebulous numbers ("more and more, women are...") and odd anecdotes to make their points (showing single women who decide to get pregnant as proof that women are lonely), the reporting seems, overall, to be on the mark. Still, the focus is fuzzy. By presenting this program as a look at what feminism hath wrought and then telling you about most of society's ills, the show seems to be blaming women for the decomposition of the nuclear family and worse. But I know better. It seems that the show was trying to investigate what the revolution has yet to accomplish at work and home. If the show had concentrated on that task, rather than telling us too much of what we already know, it would have been more provocative and productive.

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