Monday, October 10, 2011

TVGrrrrl LOVES the Playboy Club —
It's all about Grrrrl Power!

The first episode begins with Bunny Maureen (played by Amber Heard) being assaulted by Key Holder Clyde Hill (played by Randy Steinmeyer). Maureen ain't no pussycat. She kills him in self-defense.

After three glorious episodes, NBC announced that The Playboy Club TV show was going to be be axed – the first cancellation of the season.


I know what you’re thinking. The Playboy Club? Really? How incredibly sexist and male chauvinistic of a story-line for a TV show. Isn’t it just soft porn? You watch that show? You, TV Grrrrl? Groan!

Yes, I do. And I love it!

Fifteen minutes in, I was hooked. What a great show! And there’s nothing masculine about it and there’s nothing that racy about it either – this is prime-time network television, after all. It’s all about drama! And, it’s all about girl power! Strong, self-actuating women are the backbone of the club, dominating the storylines, and coming off as the heroes, saving the lost sad poor little men’s butts. It rocks!

It's also an historical fiction, meaning that each storyline is based on actual events and circumstances that occurred at the club during the 1960s, the time period where the show is set.

Unlike Mad Men, which I detest, this isn't about the guys. This show is about the gals, and what gals they are!

If you haven’t seen it yet, please do me a favor and watch at least one episode. Sadly, you will have to watch reruns of the first episodes on 304 or online, here: first pilot episode. The show was originally intended to run after The Sing-Off tonight, but has just been replaced by Prime Suspect. Fortunately, the producers are working hard to negotiate a deal to move the show to cable on the Bravo network, according to a recent article on she-wired.

Unfortunately, this is a soap opera of sorts. To catch you up on the show, here’s is the plot in a nutshell:

The Playboy Club plot to date

The Playboy Club, a swanky members only club in downtown Chicago, is frequented by all the “who’s who’s” of the political, business, and mob world. Famous entertainment acts, such as Ike and Tina Turner and Leslie Gore, play at the club and are portrayed by wonderful real-life impersonators each episode.

Maureen (played by Amber Heard) is a new bunny in training and has been hired to walk around the clientele selling cigarettes, but is asked for a dance by a gruff-looking old male customer (customers are called a Key Holders, for the playboy key they are issued as a symbolic entrance to the club). She agrees, then after he gets a wee bit too fresh, she gently pushes him away and dances with another man who wants his turn as well.

Thinking it all in flirtatious fun, Maureen disappears into the back storage area to refill her nearly empty cigarette tray. However, much to her dismay, the gruff-looking Key Holder follows her into the back and forces himself upon her. Maureen ain’t no pussycat, and she fights off the older man, inevitably stabbing him in the neck with her 5” stiletto heels. The man bleeds to death.

Her boss, Nick Dalton (played by Eddie Cibrian), walks in on the scuffle, and asks her, “Do you have any idea who you just killed?”

Ready to face the music, Maureen says, “He attacked me. It was in self defense.”

Dalton explains that they can’t call the cops in this case, because, "He is known to most people as Clyde Hill, a respectable married business man. But his real name is Bruno Bianchi. And he’s the boss of the outfit, …the mob!”

Dalton, a former “fixer” with the mob himself, tells Maureen that they will have to dispose of the body and she should disappear, take the wad of money in Clyde Hill’s wallet, and high tail it out of town. But, Maureen refuses to leave. They dump the body into the river and Maureen, covered in blood, goes home with Dalton to his nearby flat to take a shower and change.

Dalton’s girlfriend is Carol-Lynne (played by Laura Benanti), a bunny at the club who is the spitting image of All My Children’s Erica Cain, both in speech, dress, and appearance. In episode 1, she is defined as being a veteran bunny with the highest seniority who can do as she pleases, taking advantage of her rank to enjoy a few moments in the spotlight singing on stage. In episode 2, after being unfairly dismissed by Billy Rosen (played by David Krumholtz), a manager/accountant with a gambling problem, she pleads her case to none other than Hugh Heffner, who agrees to promote her into her own newly created position of Bunny Mother, a woman who trains, watches over, and serves as advocate for all of the Playboy bunnies.

Carol-Lynne walks in on Maureen coming out of her shower in her bathrobe and puts two and two together, assuming them to be involved in some sort of hanky panky, and storms out.

Before long, the mob begins looking for Clyde Hill and pressing for answers. Maureen and Dalton find that their perfect alibi to explain their disappearance together after Maureen dances with Hill, is to perpetuate the rumor that they are having an affair. However, Dalton wants Carol-Lynne back, so he tells her nothing happened and he just helped Maureen out of a jam, but gives no details. Likewise, Maureen, feeling the pressure of her new Bunny Mother boss, Carol-Lynne, confesses to her that Dalton helped her by fighting off a homeless street person, which explains not only why she was taking a shower at his home, but also explains why her pretty pale blue bunny costume is now shoved under her bed covered in dried blood.

The story gets more exciting with episode 3 when two men find Clyde Hill’s key, and use it to fraudulently enter the Playboy Club. Maureen snags it back, then hides it in a container of vanishing cream in the top drawer of the sink at the Playboy Mansion, where she and all the other single bunnies reside.

Over the episodes, we learn the individual and personal hardship stories of each of the bunnies, explaining why they are working in such a stereotypically seedy job. There’s Bunny Janie (Jenna Duwan) who is married to a released convict and is in hiding. There’s Bunny Brenda (Naturi Naughton) who wants to earn enough money to buy a prestigious piece of real estate and be somebody. There’s also an interesting sub plot about the Mattachine Society, a group of oppressed homosexuals who are posing as straight, working, and living, and married to each other in order to keep their true identities hidden from society and family members. Bunny Alice, (Leah Renee) is a member, posing as a straight married woman.

The Playboy Club is one of the most interesting, colorful, dynamic, and female empowering shows to debut in several years. I urge you ladies to watch the show and join me in voicing your opinions to NBC and save the show.

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