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Christine Baranski.

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Christine Baranski Is a Little Skeptical of Pan Am and The Playboy Club

Gloria Steinem has been in the news lately for taking NBC's new period drama The Playboy Club to task, so at yesterday's luncheon at La Grenouille honoring Steinem and the HBO documentary Gloria: In Her Own Words, we asked The Good Wife star Christine Baranski about sexism on TV. "Believe me, being in the acting profession you see the worst and the best of it," she told us. "I'm rather appalled that they're now making television shows about Playboy bunnies and stewardesses, and I think, really? Haven't we gone past that, well past that? It's one of the reasons I'm so happy to be on such an intelligent show that portrays women as complex, intelligent, educated human beings. But the battle continues. I had the pleasure of raising two daughters, and thanks to women like Gloria Steinem I insisted first and foremost that they get a great education and that they not just rely on their beauty."

Baranski noted that some period dramas investigate sexism instead of coating it in candy colors for a mass audience. "You know, Mad Men is so beautifully done, and I think it deals with where women were at that time," she said. "It's not exploitative, it's a wonderful look back at the way things were, how women were treated, how they looked and what the sexual mores were. And if anything, it should be a cautionary tale, like, let's not go back there."

Still, Baranski hastened to add about The Playboy Club and the stewardess serial Pan Am, "I haven't seen them. I just think the sexual commodification of women continues. In fact, it may be worse than ever; you just look at any ad ... It's also distressing that actresses, when they do photo shoots, they more often than not have to put on very sexy clothes and kind of be in some kind of bondage situation. It's like, really? Every photo shoot has to be like this?" (Maybe don't show her this one.)

Photo: CLINT SPAULDING/PatrickMcMullan