Jeremy Likes TV

I like TV. Probably more than any human should.

2011 Fall Television Dead Pool: The Playboy Club

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The 2011 fall television season claimed its first victim on Tuesday as NBC announced the cancellation of The Playboy Club after just three airings. It wasn’t exactly the most surprising move as the show had been averaging just over four million viewers an episode, trending downward in each week and bottoming out at 3.39 million for Monday’s (final) episode. It had also sunk to just over a 1.0 rating in the coveted 18-49 demo. That’s bad. Can’t say that this one really surprised me because, after viewing the first two episodes I was struck more than anything by just how BORING it actually was. For a show that actually places the Playboy brand in its title and is set at a nightclub populated by scantily-clad women, it was actually very, very tame, so much so that the PTC protest of the show and an NBC affiliate station in Utah’s decision to ban it from its airwaves were incredibly laughable. Much like the protests against it, the show wasn’t to be taken seriously, either. This is a show that, in the pilot, had a character refer to the club thusly: “It was a place where anything could happen to anybody. Or, any Bunny.” I mean, really.

While the writing proved to be something less than good, The Playboy Club was done no favors by its casting either. Its ostensible star, Eddie Cibrian, has a rep as a noted show-killer [1] and here came off like a homeless man’s Jon Hamm that the show’s writers apparently thought was much, much more interesting than he actually turned out to be. I’ve never gotten the appeal of Amber Heard as an actress and here as the central Bunny, Whatshername, proved to be much too vapid and somber to carry anything resembling an actual human emotion. In fact, the only actress who could come out of this unscathed is Laura Benanti as Carol-Lynne, the “house mother” to the younger Bunnies at the club. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her pop up somewhere else in the near future.

For the show itself, sure, the easy and lazy comparison is to Mad Men [2] due to the fact that the shows share a 60s setting, but in all actuality the series came off more like the bastard child of American Dreams and Las Vegas, two noted lightweights that, admittedly, got to run for more than three episodes. But the writing was clearly on the wall. The Bunnies were so easily placed in a box (the one with the mysterious past who’s just trying to start over, the aging one who feels threatened by the younger model, the African-American striking out for civil rights, the one fleeing an abusive husband) that it was difficult to see them as actual people instead of simply cardboard cutouts of stock characterizations, and in all honesty, I didn’t see any reason that I should give a shit about any of them in the two episodes that I saw. While I’m usually a sucker for period-piece television of this era, The Playboy Club was so limp and lifeless that I didn’t see sticking with it past a third episode. In the end, I’m just thankful that NBC made my decision for me.

[1] Anyone here remember Invasion or Vanished? No? Exactly.
[2] Hell… I just made one myself.

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Written by jeremylikestv

October 6, 2011 at 8:00 am

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