The Swinging Sixties was a time of cultural revolution, an era of irresponsible excess, flamboyance, challenging social mores and taboos, especially on sexism and racism. NBC visits this tumultuous period once again (their former show, American Dreams, was also set in the 60’s) in their new series set in the early 60’s in Chicago with the legendary Playboy Club as its backdrop.
This series invites you to delve into the seductive world of the glamorous and glitzy nightclub of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine with gorgeous and scantily clad waitresses in bunny outfits and throw in the era’s biggest mobsters, politicos and entertainers. You’ll expect to see a “really fun soap opera” as NBC entertainment chairman, Robert Greenblatt, described it.
The Playboy Club
I originally thought that The Playboy Club would be based on the iconic Hugh Hefner and how he created an empire and changed American culture. ‘Coz when you say Playboy, it’s almost synonymous with Hugh Hefner. If you were hopping to see some sort of documentary on how this visionary entrepreneur has reached where he is now, unfortunately, this series isn’t it. It’s a historical fiction set in one of Hefner’s clubs. But don’t worry, a younger version of Hefner will still make an appearance in the series, albeit, he will only be seen from the back. I guess they really want to focus on the series and not let the “persona” of Hefner overshadow the show.
This provocative show centers on the employees and patrons of the first Playboy Club in Chicago. The central character is the very dashing Nick Dalton who is a Playboy Club Keyholder and one of the city’s top attorneys. He has mysterious ties to the mob and rubs elbows with everyone in the city’s power structure. He comes to the aid of the innocent, recently-hired bunny, Maureen, who accidentally kills the leader of the Bianchi crime family. With things beginning to heat up between Maureen and Nick, Carol-Lynne, the bombshell bunny and also an established star at the club, is definitely not happy as she is dating Nick. Carol-Lynne knows that her days as a bunny are numbered and she is continually at odds with the club’s general manager Billy Rosen, who happens to be a close friend of Nick.
The other interesting characters adding to the charm of the Playboy club are bunny Janie who is foxy, carefree and the life of the party with a secret past. She is dating the club’s bartender, Max, who is described as overly protective, sweet and romantic. Bunny Brenda, with her stunning beauty and dry wit, aspires to be the first African-American Playboy Playmate. Another bunny with a secret is Alice who is a closeted lesbian in a mutually beneficial sham marriage with Sean, also a closeted gay man. Alice is the mother-hen of the group who takes care of everyone but herself. The club’s seamstress is Pearl who’s been around since day one so she knows a lot about how to survive. And John Bianchi is the son of Bruno Bianchi, the mob figure who was accidentally killed by Maureen.
September 19, 2011 (MONDAY) – 10/9c on NBC
Before the show has even aired, it already has met criticism from various groups like the Parents Television Council (PTC), the anti-pornography activist group Morality in Media, The Florida Family Association and women’s rights advocate Gloria Steinem. It’s interesting to see these groups very vocal about the show when they haven’t even seen the pilot yet.
Although looking at the costumes from the promo photos released, the bunny outfit is even more conservative compared to what we see in music videos nowadays. Even Las Vegas showgirls show more skin than they do. In a time where celebrities “leak” their sex tapes and nude photos, is The Playboy Club really that scandalous? Hey, if you’re worried that your impressionable kids will get the wrong ideas, the don’t let them watch the show.
- Some members of the cast, including Heard, Cibrian, Dewan and Renee, signed contracts that include nudity clauses. Although many doubt these nude scenes will be shown on TV. Maybe on the DVD release.
- The series was originally called Bunny Tales
- Playboy founder Hugh Hefner plays a part in the pilot as he recorded a narration for the episode. But reports say that this will only be done in the 1st episode.
- Hefner was also given the authority to review scripts for the series. But according to creator, Chad Hodge, Hefner has been very hands-off.
- Like NBC’s former show American Dreams, the series will also have featured actors coming on and playing roles of legendary entertainers. Producers confirmed actors will play younger versions of Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Ike and Tina Turner.
- Eddie Cibrian as Nick Dalton
- Amber Heard as Bunny Maureen
- Laura Benanti as Bunny Carol-Lynne
- Naturi Naughton as Bunny Brenda
- Leah Renee as Bunny Alice
- Jenna Dewan as Bunny Janie