The Playboy Club, just as it was finally getting much better and much gayer, has been cancelled after only three episodes. Ratings were dismal and the team blames the fact that men don’t like it for the show’s lower-than-expected performance. Witness:
“… the guys who initially tuned in — thinking about Hef and hoping for some fun, sexy story lines — discovered a show that frankly appeals more to their wives, sisters or girlfriends.”
Furthermore, the show airs opposite Monday Night Football. However, women are, I believe, 51% of the population and clearly enough persons to carry a television program.
Speaking of women who watch this television program, despite the fact that I hate everything, I’d actually started to like The Playboy Club. The first episode was boring, cliche and often skeezy, but the last two episodes have revealed that the heart of the show isn’t heterosexual sex, men in suits and female objectification after all — it’s a (dare I say) feminist look at a group of smart, independent, talented women who aren’t afraid to be sexy and transgress societal norms. The fact that these women aren’t looking to get married is repeatedly drilled into our heads (much like Pan Am, which in my opinion on a scale of one to ten rates just above staring at a fish tank) — it’s all very “women are doin’ it for themselves.”
You wouldn’t know about the increasingly female-oriented tone of the show from any of the marketing materials, however. NBC promised endless sex, gangsters and bunny tails. And as aforementioned, you wouldn’t know this from watching the pilot. It seems the next logical step for NBC would be to revamp how the show is marketed to make it clear to women that this show is more about women’s relationships to themselves and each other than it is to Heffner’s fan club.
This week’s episode of The Playboy Club was safely Heff-voiceover-free (unless I missed a scene while standing in the kitchen eating Sesame Street Organic Letter of the Day Cookies) and blessed its audience with yet another lesbian! Frances Dunhill was introduced as Nick Dalton‘s new pretend girlfriend (his actual girlfriend, Carol-Lynne, works at The Playboy Club and therefore isn’t suited for an ambitious politician’s right arm) who is also involved in The Mattachine Society with lesbian Alice and Alice’s gay husband.
The episode also included a fairly obvious/inappropriate dig at Gloria Steinem by introducing Doris, a journalist who gets a job at the club in order to write an exposé on the club’s allegedly seedy underbelly. Her cover is eventually blown and she gets a strict talking to from Carol-Lynne, who accuses her of taking advantage of the Bunnies’ kindness and open arms when the explosive story she wanted to write wasn’t there for the taking.
We also got a few solid musical numbers including another from Carol-Lynne (played by Laura Benanti).
Also, NBC has ordered a full season of Whitney, which is so mind-numbingly terrible that I have to mute the Whitney ads that come on during The Playboy Club’s commercial breaks.
Ideally, the show could be purchased and revamped for cable, where it could get a little more edgy if it wanted to, though I doubt that will happen. There are presently no plans to air the remaining episodes in a different time slot.