Fall 2011 Review: The Playboy Club

18 Oct

Of the two set-in-the-early-‘60s shows (Pan Am is the other), Playboy is  making much more of an effort to be Mad Men.  I’m not going to say that’s exactly what it is, or that it’s ripping if off, or anything of the sort, but I’ll make the mild comment that of the two shows, Playboy Club is clearly leaning more in that direction.

The Playboy Club is about the title location in Chicago, about a few of the girls who work as bunnies there, and about the manager and one particular key-holder (I guess you need a key to enter) named Nick Dalton who is a mysterious figure running for state attorney general but with a past that ties him to the mob.  The first episode is centered around a new bunny, portrayed by Amber Heard. Nearly the first action of the show is a man attempting to rape Heard.  Heard, helped byDalton, accidentally kills him, resisting the rape, and then finds out he’s a powerful Chicago mobster. Dalton and Heard bury the body and invent a story that she went back to his place to sleep with him, ruining his relationship with another bunny in the process.  They have to keep up the cover, while Amber Heard learns more about the salacious and exciting world of being a bunny.  There’s a vague hint that she has some sort of mysterious background which could have come out if the show lasted longer.

Unsubtlety is a hallmark of the first episode of Playboy Club.  It’s the ‘60s, and times-they-are-a-changin’!  That point couldn’t have been made more blatantly.  Literally, there’s narration at the beginning and end of the episode by Hugh Hefner basically saying as much (apparently the narration is only in the pilot).  The civil rights movement is on!  The one African-American bunny gives an incredibly unsubtle monologue about the opportunity working in The Playboy Club provides for someone of her race.  Gays have no rights!  One of the other bunnies and her husband live together in a sham marriage because they can’t come out with their homosexuality at the time.  We get it Playboy Club, you’re trying to put yourself at the heart of the cultural and political changes of the ‘60s.  Next time remember that these things work better when there’s at least a modicum of subtlety.

I’m fairly confident the main draw of this show is the attractive women wearing little clothing.  Not that that’s not a real draw, but there isn’t really much else.  That said, I’ll damn the show with faint praise by saying it’s not quite as bad as I thought it would be.  It’s not a truly terrible show; what I’ve found at least this year so far is that the worst comedies are significantly worse than the worst dramas.  It’s kind of offensive, and it’s attempt to say that these women are really not being objectified, but that they’re rather on the edge of a new femininity doesn’t really work.  The problem with the show more than that was just that it was boring.  Nothing happened in the episode that made me want to tune in for another one.

I realized The Playboy Club is cancelled already as I post this, but at least it’s nice to know there was no big loss there.

Will I watch it again?  Well, it won’t be on again, but no, I wouldn’t have anyway.  It wasn’t truly awful but it wasn’t by any means good either.  The only friend I know who watched all three episodes admitted a large part of his choice was made because of the scantily clad women.

One Response to “Fall 2011 Review: The Playboy Club”

  1. Beardface October 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    100% of the choice was the scantily clad women! I will say that it’s hard to damn a show for its lack of subtlety when it’s about the least subtle decade of all time…but yeah, the show wasn’t any good.

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