Thursday, July 08, 2010

Oh, Those Auqanette Girls!

The Aquanettes. Don't confuse them with the hairspray product (Aqua Net) or the Belgian beach volley team (AquaNet). These young ladies are US astronauts in training under the ocean surface.

Yup, it's another classic episode of Sea Hunt, that old TV series starring Lloyd Bridges as scuba hero Mike Nelson. In an episode from 1961 he's been hired to help out with a special governmental program, Operation Astronette, training three women for a space trip to Venus. Apparently being underwater duplicates conditions on Venus.

Why Venus? Well, that planet is named after the goddess of love. And after all, Venus is for women while Mars is for men. Not to say "The Aquanettes" episode shows any signs of sexism from that time.

Of course, one trainee -- let's call her Sensitive Sue -- has problems, makes a mistake. She gets upset and cries. The real tough cookie of the trio, Brass Bitch, scorns Sensitive Sue. BB says Sue doesn't have what it takes to be an astronaut.

The third girl in the trio is Amiable Amy, at least amiable towards stud Mike Nelson. At one point she and Sue get in a catfight over Mike. Our hero throws both of them off the boat into the water to cool off.

Obviously these gals are ready for a rigorous space mission that doesn't tolerate any mistakes.

As the story progress, Sensitive Sue is involved with another screw-up while training with the others underwater. Back on the boat Brass Bitch rips Sue a new one.

Later Sue turns up missing. She's dived in by herself to prove she has the right stuff. Mike and the other two Aquanettes/Astronettes don their scuba gear and search for her. Mike gives BB his spear gun because sharks have been spotted. But when a shark shows up with the munchies, BB freezes up. But everyone escapes and are soon back on the boat where BB apologies to Sensitive Sue for the way she treated her before.

You see it's different when the flipper is on the other foot. Upset for freezing up and not dealing with the shark, Brass Bitch cries.

I think these three gals were chosen not for their expertise. They were chosen for their expendability. ("Dumb broads. Shoot them into space and let God take care of 'em.")

After seeing this episode, I began to wonder. Since it was such an emotional moment, did Neil Armstrong cry when he first stepped on the moon?


Doug said...

Not to get all mushy, but it does seem like finally stepping foot on the moon is one thing that should move even the manliest man to get a little misty.

Hey, at least Sea Hunt was allowing women to go into space, rather than just being secretaries.

X. Dell said...

I think that script was chosen for its cheesiness, not to mention affirmation of female stereotypes.

Actually, it's kinda interesting to look at some of these shows from the 1960s and reflect on the mores of the time, where men and women held reign over seperate spheres of life. I wonder how many people watching in 1961 saw that episode and thought, "How realistic! That's exactly how women would act."