Episode Reviews

The Playboy Club – Pilot

The Playboy Club is NBC’s new period piece about the famous 1960s Chicago Playboy Club. As one could expect, it is a show full of nostalgia reminding the viewers of the classic days of the early 1960s where the mob was rampant, corruption was everywhere, and societal stereotypes were in full force. Unfortunately, that’s where the show seems to end as the remainder of the pilot seemed very dull, slow, and generally cliche.

The show itself revolves around the exploits of Maureen (Amber Heard), the typical blonde girl from nowhere looking to make a name for herself in the big city. On her very first night of the job as the cigarette girl at the club, she ends up killing the boss of the mob with her show in the back rooms, only to be saved by the aspiring attorney Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian) who disposes of the body for her in a move that is both horrific and chivalrous at the same time. Of course Dalton and his political aspirations will be thrust into the spotlight as the mob tightens its grip looking for what happened to their missing boss.

The slew of other characters serve nothing but to remind us of the hard times and different culture that the 1960s were, from a lesbian with her gay husband saving to start a new lesbian and gay rights organization, to the constant reminder by the sole black bunny, Brenda (Naturi Naughton), who also played the black bunny on Mad Men), that life is hard as a black girl. There just isn’t much depth at this point, and it seems it might not go very far at this rate.

We also have the cliche older bunny turned bunny mother Carol-Lynne (Laura Benanti) forcing her way into the den mother role to stay relevant as she nears the eventual forced retirement despite her aspirations to be in charge of the whole club. Benanti gives a great performance overall, but her character as a whole is unlikeable and generally unbelievable, like most of the show.

There are plenty of nods to the sucesssfull Mad-Men with the same flair and dark societal imagery that made that show great, but in the Playboy Club, it seems that all the dark and sinister sides of the characters is muted by a sense of “good boy trying to be bad” motif. With this weak and likely to be tiring (cliche) mob story, plenty of obvious (cliche) remarks about civil rights, and an uninspired (cliche) heroine, I can’t see Playboy Club as a serious effort by NBC or something worth watching.

Other Observations

  • Amber Heard is very..observable.
  • Heff does the voiceovers, but he does not appear in the episode. His younger ego appears only facing away in a chair, which surely would save on trying to find someone who looked like him.
  • Director Alan Taylor also directed Mad-Men
  • They inserted an interesting set of performances by “Tina Turner”
  • How is it that random people are walking in and out of the back rooms of the club? Isn’t there security or something?

By Kien Tran

Based in Dallas, Texas, Kien Tran is an avid television enthusiast. After spending hundreds of hours wasting away on a couch, he decided to actually do something creative with his hobby and created this very blog.

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