Jiggle television

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Farrah Fawcett, from the 1970s series Charlie's Angels

Jiggle television is a term coined by NBC executive Paul Klein to criticize ABC's television production and marketing strategy under Fred Silverman.[1]


Klein referred to ABC's programs as "porn" in order to tap into the 1970s moral panic and anxiety over the spread of pornography,[2] using the neologism to describe the use of female television celebrities moving in loose clothing or underwear in a way in which their breasts or buttocks could be seen to shake, or "jiggle".[3] An American invention,[4] it was used to refer to programs such as Charlie's Angels,[5] Wonder Woman and Three's Company,[2] which used the sexuality of young women as appeal to their audiences.[6]


The programs' plots were often sexist, full of innuendo and suggestive language, and unrealistic in nature.[7] Producers of such series would make sure that its lead actresses would appear in a bikini, one-piece swimsuit, négligée, underwear, or naked under a towel, in each show.[8] Angie Dickinson, star of NBC's Police Woman (1974–1978), which preceded and influenced Charlie's Angels, said that although "essentially a woman’s job is being a woman", by the show's last season she was tired of scenes "where the phone rings while I'm taking a bath".[9]

Reception and legacy[edit]

At the time, the ABC target audience was 18 to 35 years old.[10] Jiggle was also called "tits & ass television" or "T&A" for short[11] and in the 1970s the amount of sex on television increased, as did its ratings,[2] creating social controversies and consequences.[12]

The term was later taken to new extremes by the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s and early 2000s on such television shows as Baywatch, She Spies, and numerous USA Network series.

The term has been used to describe the dramatic television series of Aaron Spelling such as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Charmed and others.[13] Jiggle TV is seen as trashy and escapist entertainment.[1] Programs or female performers are often judged by their "jiggle factor"[14] and many, such as Pamela Anderson[4] had their bodies surgically modified to increase it. The term "jiggle-o" is used to describe a character which uses jiggle factor and "jiggle syndrome" is used to discuss the phenomenon as a whole.[3]

When the show was number three, I figured it was our acting. When it got to be number one, I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Television Everywhere: How Hollywood Can Take Back the Internet and Turn Digital Dimes Into Dollars. Andrei Jezierski. i2 Partners LLC, 12 Oct 2010
  2. ^ a b c Censoring Sex: A Historical Journey Through American Media. John E. Semonche, Rowman & Littlefield, 15 Aug 2007
  3. ^ a b Algeo, John (1993). Fifty Years Among the New Words: A Dictionary of Neologisms, 1941–1991. Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^ a b Points of View. Rex Murphy. McClelland & Stewart, 23 Sep 2003
  5. ^ White, Rosie (2007). Violent Femmes: Women As Spies in Popular Culture. Taylor & Francis.
  6. ^ Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American television. Elana Levine. Duke University Press, 19 Dec 2006
  7. ^ Perspectives on Radio and Television: Telecommunication in the United States. F. Leslie Smith, John W. Wright (II.), David H. Ostroff. Routledge, 1 Aug 1998
  8. ^ Female Action Heroes: A Guide to Women in Comics, Video Games, Film, and Television. Gladys L. Knight. ABC-CLIO, 8 Jun 2010
  9. ^ Ames, Wilmer (1978-11-27). "Angie Keeps on Going". People. Retrieved 2020-07-22.
  10. ^ Programming for TV, Radio, and the Internet: Strategy, Development, and Evaluation. Philippe Perebinossoff, Brian Gross, Lynne S. Gross. Elsevier, 24 Feb 2005
  11. ^ Alfred R. Schneider, Kaye Pullen. The Gatekeeper: My Thirty Years as TV Censor. Syracuse University Press, 2001
  12. ^ Condom Nation: The U.S. Government's Sex Education Campaign from World War I to the Internet. Alexandra M. Lord. JHU Press, 23 Nov 2009
  13. ^ Jiggle Tv: Charlie's Angels and Aaron Spelling's Television Legacy. Courtney Hutton. BiblioBazaar, 2010. ISBN 1240062885.
  14. ^ America's Favorite Radio Station: Wkrp in Cincinnati. Michael B. Kassel. Popular Press, 15 Jun 1993
  15. ^ "Charlie's timeless angels: Women who transformed television". Independent.co.uk. 2006-08-30. Archived from the original on 2022-06-08. Retrieved 2010-11-11.