Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review - The Playboy Club Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Of all the new pilots this season, The Playboy Club ranks pretty high up on my curiosity chart. With the initial surprise of the show's name and premise, the following outrage, comparisons to Mad Men, and the attempts to convince the public that the show was actually about female empowerment, there were plenty of questions that made the show intriguing.

Basically, the Playboy aspect is pointless and detrimental to the show. The writers want us to believe the club actually helps women and that the Bunnies were actually the only women out there who can be anything they want. Common sense would say that this is obviously not what happened in real life, and even the depiction in the show is far from Hugh Hefner's words. To top it off, Hef's voiceovers seem to suggest the club had a critical role in the women's rights movement and gay rights movements.

Sorry... but no, just no.

I don't see how dressing women in bunny outfits and turning them into objects by offering big money has anything to allowing women to be anything they want. In attempt to glorify the club and show how it is good, the writers turn themselves into a laughable group of people, twisting things so there is some kind of moral backbone to the show. At the best, the writers are too dumb to realize the contradictions. At the worst, the writers are engaging in revisionist history of the worst kind.

This Playboy thing turns into a big gimmick, with the Bunnies in their outfits, the mansion, and whatnot, while it clouds the plot, which may have had potential. A mob drama in a historic period, with high production value, would be cool. Unfortunately, these pieces are shuffled off to the side and we're left with little plot and a silly message about the club.

Given the paltry premiere ratings of 1.6, The Playboy Club will almost certainly be canceled. So what went wrong? First off, NBC never should have aired the show--and certainly not after family friendly The Sing-Off. It is a cable show through and through--maybe not for AMC, but TNT, A&E, and others. What could have worked better is if it were on Showtime and completely retooled, embracing the public's image of Playboy and getting rid of the message. Premium cable opens the boundaries of network television--nudity, violence, etc--which would fit perfectly with what people expect.

Score: 7.2/10
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