The Playboy Club

(i)

 

Branded retro drama connects sex, money, and "girl" power.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show pushes the message that being a Playboy bunny in the 1960s was one of the most empowering careers for a woman at that time because she could be "anyone she wanted to be." But the women on the show aren't valued for their minds; rather, they're objectified for money and often deal with sexual harassment -- and worse -- on the job. One of the club mottos when it comes to the leglines of the signature bunny costume is "higher hips, higher tips."

Positive role models

There's an attempt to show diversity among the bunnies, with one African-American (which is a historically accurate detail) and another character who's secretly a lesbian. That said, the female characters do fit a certain physical mold, and the main character is a blonde, blue-eyed beauty with a sizable bust and tiny proportions.

Violence

An ongoing plotline involves murder, with some scenes of sudden violence and blood, including an attempted sexual assault.

Sex

In addition to skimpy costumes and cleavage, there's simulated sex -- no nudity, but visible bare backs, etc. Another storyline involves gay characters who are living as a heterosexual couple.

Language

Audible terms tend to be sexual, including "piss," "hooker," "penis," and "ass."

Consumerism

From the title down to the bunny costumes, Playboy branding is ever present. There's also some cross promotion with the adults-only Playboy magazine.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Thanks to the nightclub setting, there's regular social drinking. Several characters smoke, too (accurate for the show's era).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this series directly promotes the Playboy brand and glamorizes the lives of Playboy Bunnies in the 1960s. The show also tries to push a message that the Playboy Bunny lifestyle empowered women of the era rather than objectified them. The sexy subject matter includes some simulated sex and kissing, but no nudity; there are violent moments, too, involving murder, blood, and attempted sexual assault. Characters also use words like "piss," "hooker," "penis," and "ass"; drink alcohol; and smoke cigarettes.

What's the story?

In 1960s Chicago, THE PLAYBOY CLUB is one of the hottest destinations in the city, where only a coveted key can gain you access to the fantasies locked inside. But one of the club's newest "Bunnies," Maureen (Amber Heard), quickly finds herself on the outs with veteran Bunny Carol-Lynne (Laura Benanti) -- and a powerful Windy City crime family -- when she kills a VIP client in self-defense and Carol-Lynne's lover, Nick (Eddie Cibrian), comes to her aid.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Well before it aired, The Playboy Club was catching flak, both from parent groups who feared it promoted pornography and women's advocacy groups who claimed it was inherently sexist. And while neither of those predictions proves 100 percent accurate, the show certainly tries its darnedest to make serving men cocktails in a tight-fitting Bunny outfit look like an act of women's lib. But let's be honest: That's a pretty tough sell.

 

Aside from all that cleavage, of course, there's one other big distraction worth mentioning: leading man Eddie Cibrian's blatant attempt to impersonate Mad Men's Jon Hamm, whose Emmy-winning portrayal of womanizing ad exec Don Draper elicits both swoons and critical acclaim. It's an aural resemblance that's so uncanny it can hardly be an accident, which makes The Playboy Club feel even more like a cheap copy of a classier original.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about sexism and the way that women are portrayed on the show. What role does gender play in the context of these characters' lives? Who generally seems to be in charge, and who's generally taking orders?

  • Do you agree with the producers' premise that being a Playboy Bunny empowered women of the era? How have society's views about women's roles changed since the 1960s?

  • In terms of consumerism, how does this show about Playboy's history help promote the modern-day Playboy brand? What does Playboy stand to gain -- or lose -- from the show's success?

  • What messages is the show sending female viewers about the importance of being sexy and attractive to the opposite sex?

TV details

Cast:Amber Heard, Eddie Cibrian, Naturi Naughton
Network:NBC
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

This review of The Playboy Club was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 6 year old Written bymadsmooney1214 September 3, 2012

the playboy club

charge, and who's generally taking orders? Do you agree with the producers' premise that being a Playboy Bunny empowered women of the era? How have society's views about women's roles changed since the 1960s? In terms of consumerism, how does this show about Playboy's history help promote the modern-day Playboy brand? What does Playboy stand to gain -- or lose -- from the show's success? What messages is the show sending female viewers about the importance of being sexy and attractive to the opposite sex?
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 3 and 5 year old Written bylaribrook September 29, 2011

Trash.

I'm sorry but i have to disagree w/ Common Sense on this one. How is a show promoting pornography and prostitution, etc getting a "Just Fine" rating?? DIsappointed. This show is not for teens, or anyone.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent Written byfhl566 September 26, 2011

Porn for kids?

Since when is marketing pornography on primetime acceptable? Who cares about the plot. This show is all about promoting the Playboy brand and mainstreaming pornography.

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