New Fall TV Review: The Playboy Club

There are a LOT of new shows premeiring this fall, and it’s hard to decide what to give a chance to, and what should be avoided at all costs. Throughout this fall, we’ll be giving short reviews of most of the new pilots, and letting you know what deserves your precious time.
It’s inevitable that The Playboy Club will be compared ad nauseum to Mad Men. NBC’s agressive marketing forthe show has made sure of that. And it definitely has many of the same elements: men in suits in the 60’s ogling women while smoking and drinking heavily. But while Mad Men manages to pull off this aesthetic in a show with sharp writing, amazing performances, and all-around polish, The Playboy Club just comes off as the community theater adaptation of the much better show. Many of the show’s problems stem from its 2 leads, Eddie Cibrian and Amber Heard. Cibrian is painfully obvious in trying to do his best Jon Hamm impersonation, and his best is certainly not good enough. Heard’s character might be the epitome of TV/movie cliches: “I’m the new girl in town who has big dreams in the big city! I wanna be a star!” She comes off as incredibly one-dimensional.

There’s a bigger problem with The Playboy Club: its treatment of the titular club. The show is based on the premise of the club being an empowering, magical place for women in the 60’s to work. But it’s pretty obvious from the very beginning of the series that it’s essentially a mostly-clothed strip club. Trying to treat it like some kind of women’s-lib thing is just sort of insulting, even to me as a guy. The show also features a pretty awful, near-death sounding voiceover from Hugh Hefner, and the brief appearance of Hefner as a character in the show is absolutely killed by the dreadful impersonator doing his voice.

Basically, The Playboy Club is competing against the worst possible show to take aim at. The pilot may be worth a watch in a dumb, schlocky way, but don’t expect much resembing quality.

2 melting DVRs out of 5

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