Illustration by Rachel Edelstein

The Playboy Club and Pan Am airplanes. These are the habitats women will soon occupy on television. The new shows start this fall, but they’re both set in the 1960s.

Hollywood knows how to work a decade. Just look at “Mad Men,” AMC’s award-winning drama about the Madison Avenue advertising culture.

The show’s set and costumes are meticulous — most of the props actually come from the time period they are meant to recreate, and the dress is impeccable, from men’s skinny ties to women’s corsets.

And the attitudes towards gender match the scenery. The men on the show have the upper hand in every regard. They can sleep with whomever they want, strive for any job they want and generally treat women however they want, just so long as they keep up a certain appearance. The show’s women, on the other hand, face many more obstacles and find struggles even in their victories, such as when “Mad Men” character Peggy — advertising firm Sterling Cooper’s first female copy writer — faces unabashed sexism while trying to do her hard-won job.

But that’s not to say “Mad Men” leaves its female characters out in the cold. In fact, many fans and critics alike agree that the women’s stories are what make the show. They’re all vastly different, compelling, dynamic characters whose plot lines show the difficulties women faced in the 1960s and still face today. The show is a testimonial to a history too often overlooked. The world “Mad Men” depicts is horribly sexist, but the show itself is remarkably equal and possibly even feminist.

And unfortunately, that’s still something worth noting. Because while not many shows are overtly sexist, true female perspective and character development are hard to find on primetime television. For every “Mad Men,” there are shows like “House,” which focuses on a primarily male cast and viewpoint. For every “30 Rock,” there is a “Two and a Half Men.” Yes, both of the latter shows feature women in the cast, but they fail to delve into what those women go through in their lives. They serve as romantic interests for the men, and not much else.

And a lot of the shows that do attempt or claim to represent women don’t do much better. What does it say that the program with the highest number of female characters on television right now is the “Real Housewives” franchise?

There are some shows with great roles for women — “The Good Wife” and “Bones” come to mind, among a few others — but they’re still few and far between.

This lack of representation is no surprise, given the statistics. Women made up only 17 percent of all writers in the entertainment industry in 2009, according to the Writers Guild of America. It’s futile to expect a team of mostly male writers to be especially competent at coming up with complex female characters. To the credit of “Mad Men,” a number of women have won Emmys for their work writing on the show.

Hollywood has taken note of this success. The major networks announced their new pilots for the fall season a couple of weeks ago, and a few shows stood out as trying to cash in on Mad Men’s nostalgia-fueled hype. NBC’s “Playboy Club” and ABC’s “Pan Am” focus on the lives of Playboy bunnies and flight attendants in the 1960s.

One cannot judge a book by its cover or a TV show by its promotional poster. That being said, it’s worth noting that still shots from “Playboy Club” focus pretty heavily on particular female anatomical parts. The bunnies’ faces — when they’re shown at all — reveal no emotion more complex than sexual desire and a willingness to serve men. The flight attendants of “Pan Am” are more conservatively dressed, but the portrayed power structure remains the same, with the women literally standing a few feet behind the male pilots.

Still, it remains to be seen whether the writers for these shows intend to only rip off the “Mad Men” aesthetic or if they’re looking to go deeper than that. It’s easy to recreate a ’60s-themed world of sexism and inequality, but people who actually watch “Mad Men” know loving the show means loving (and loving to hate) the characters, and seeing what they go through.

Yes, “Mad Men” star Christina Hendricks is nice to look at. But seeing her character, secretary-of-steel Joan, dealing with an incredibly sexist cartoon of her posted in the office by male coworkers is what makes her — and the show — nice to watch.

So let’s hope Hollywood doesn’t simply recreate “Mad Men” in the visual sense. Here’s hoping that Playboy’s bunnies and Pan Am’s attendants can join the ranks of Sterling Cooper’s secretaries.