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The Playboy Club 

Gloria Steinem weighs in.

click to enlarge Too clueless to be empowering, too dumb to be offensive
  • Too clueless to be empowering, too dumb to be offensive

I would have paid to see Gloria Steinem’s reaction to a TCA (Television Critics Association) panel last month where The Playboy Club executive producer Chad Hodge announced his silly new show is “all about empowering ... these women.”

Of course the legendary feminist was not present at the panel, but one week later Steinem encouraged affiliates and viewers to boycott the NBC drama.

“Clearly The Playboy Club is not going to be accurate,” Steinem told Reuters. “It was the tackiest place on Earth. It was not glamorous at all.” She’s drawing on her experience working as an undercover Playboy bunny in the exact time period Hodge’s show attempts to replicate.

Sadly, the actual program isn’t half as intriguing as the drama building up to its premiere.

If Hodge hadn’t dropped the e-bomb (“empowering”), I wouldn’t have been scouring The Playboy Club for allegedly liberating nuances. But he did, so I did. Here they are:

1. Hugh Hefner narrates: “[The Playboy Club] was a place where anything could happen to anybody ... or any bunny.”

2. Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian, CSI Miami, Third Watch) tells lead Bunny Carol Lynne (Broadway actress Laura Benanti), “You couldn’t be a victim if you tried.”

3. The club general manager, Billy Rosen (David Krumholtz, Numb3rs), pokes fun at Dalton for liking smart women: “You’re the only man I know who puts his hand up a girl’s skirt looking for a dictionary.”

4.“Hef doesn’t care what color people are,” says Bunny Janie, “as long as they’re interesting.”

5. Black Bunny Brenda declares, “I’m gonna be the first chocolate centerfold. I am! You can’t discriminate against these babies [referring to her breasts].”

6. “I make more money than my father,” whispers Bunny Alice. As empowering as tipping well at Hooters, right? I understand NBC trying to cash in on our culture’s current fascination and pseudo-nostalgia with the 1960s of Mad Men, but it doesn’t get the look right, let alone the feel.

The Playboy Club isn’t edgy, innovative, funny or sexy enough to have a positive or negative impact on culture or TV. It’s neither offensive nor empowering to women of the past or future.

(NBC, Mondays, 10 pm)


TIVO-WORTHY

Charlie’s Angels
Don’t dig cigarette girls with bustiers and silk bunny ears? How about foxy bad-ass chicks with guns? I will watch the newest Charlie’s Angels because Drew Barrymore is executive producer and I loved her big screen Angels turns. Plus, I collected the original Charlie’s Angels trading cards when I was 8. (ABC, Thursdays, 8 pm)

Person of Interest
The acting chops of Ben from Lost and Jesus from The Passion would make powerful television even without an intriguing plot line, but Person of Interest has that, too. The genius (Michael Emerson) helps the bad-ass (Jim Caviezel) save good guys by killing bad guys. There are elements of 2002’s neo-noir sci-fi film Minority Report and the not-at-all-noir TV series Early Edition. (CBS, Thursdays, 9 pm)

Whitney
This season’s other stand-up comedian-created pilot pairs Whitney Cummings (who also created the first one, 2 Broke Girls) with comic Chris D’Elia as a long-term couple grappling with their mutual disinterest in marriage. Their love story is adorably flawed and caustically funny, as is the ensemble cast. (NBC, Thursdays, 9:30 pm)

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