The Playboy Club is an unmitigated disaster. And I love it. And while I’m fairly certain that I can’t really explain my fascination with this show, I figured I might as well try. Hell, it might even help me understand it.
The very first thing that hit me in the very first minute of the very first episode was an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. I’ve seen this show before….but where?! And then it hit me. I was watching a bad imitation of Showgirls. Yes, THAT Showgirls. The Showgirls that is always front and center during anyone’s “What is the worst movie of all time?” debate.
(Editorial Sidebar: The following paragraph will get into a fairly substantial amount of detail about a movie probably 3.7% of you actually saw. For the other 96.3% of you, here’s all you need to know about Showgirls. When it came out, the buzz for this movie was huge (and this was pre-internet being the internet, and certainly pre-social media). And the reason there was so much buzz was because Jesse from Saved by the Bell was about to star in a movie about Vegas showgirls. The modern day equivalent of this would be something along the lines of Miranda Cosgrove from iCarly going into a Cinemax soft-core movie next year. Showgirls had excessive nudity, completely over-the-top and contrived sex scenes, and absolutely no script or story to speak of. To call this movie a bad would be an affront to all the bad movies that were ever made before this one. And now back into our Showgirls/The Playboy Club breakdown…)
Carol-Lynne is the Gina Gershon rip-off. She’s the old pro hanging on for dear life. A little bit wiser for having been in the game for as long as she has, but at the same time a bit too desperate to keep the party going as she realizes it’s all coming to an end real soon. This is only further provoked as she watches Maureen enter the club. Maureen is the Elizabeth Berkely rip-off. A doe-eyed starlet, whose innocence is magnetic to the other characters, but a complete threat to Carol-Lynne. And whereas Maureen is somehow in awe of Carol-Lynne’s singing/performing, Carol-Lynne is in full-on catfight mode as she watches her much younger boyfriend take a bit too much of an interest in the newbie. Now here’s where I would begin to state a case that the Nick character is a rip-off of the Kyle McLaughlin Showgirls character, but unfortunately, I can’t. You see, I was too distracted by Eddie Cibrian’s apparent obsession with Jon Hamm.
From the clothes, to the lighting, to the hair, to the controlled and deliberate speech pattern, it’s obvious that Eddie Cibrian is doing a very thinly veiled (yet miserable) imitation of Jon Hamm’s Don Draper. But this nod to Mad Men (and by nod, I mean thievery) seems as though as it’s woven into the DNA of the show. They do a magnificent job of taking bits and pieces of much more ambitious and thought-required TV shows, dumbing them down, and making them ready for mass consumption.
You want a mafia show with all sorts of political graft but Boardwalk Empire isn’t quite your speed? No problem, we killed the head of the Chicago mob in the first 10 minutes of the pilot and Nick is already paying kick backs to the corrupt Mayor of Chicago for an endorsement in his run for state’s attorney. Does a storyline where a closeted gay married man lives in an era where gays had little to no hope for mainstream acceptance sound interesting to you? But is Mad Men just too slow for you? We’ve got you covered, because one of the Playboy bunnies’ hubby is doing his own rendition of Sal from Mad Men. I would also call the unnecessarily mysterious presentation of Hef in all his scenes a direct rip-off of the Charlie scenes from Charlie’s Angels, but I think the new Charlie’s Angels probably has the “ripping off the original Charlie’s Angels” angle covered in spades.
So right about now, you’re probably asking yourself “why the hell do you watch this show?”, and it’s funny you should ask that, because after reading through this rant I find myself asking, “why the hell do I watch this show?”.
I think I watch it because it is so dumb. It takes me back to a time when TV was simple and I didn’t always have to think so Goddamn much. A time when Billy and Alison could start working at a small ad agency called D&D advertising with no background in the industry and, somehow, days later find themselves working on a Super Bowl spot. A time when there was no question that Valerie would be able to successfully manage The Peach Pit After Dark despite having absolutely no experience in seemingly anything even remotely related to running or even working at a club. I think I watch it for the exact reasons it is so bad. This show is the anti-J.J. Abrams, and you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
25. The Playboy Club (Mondays @ 10pm on NBC)
Every season there are those shows that have no hope. The shows that are DEFINITELY going to get cancelled. The shows that only got made because the network couldn’t find a reality show to slide into that time slot. You know heading in that it’s going to be gone by midseason, yet you defy all common sense and you still ante up.
This show makes those shows seem like sure things.
There is a very real chance The Playboy Club gets cancelled during its’ first commercial break. So, of course, I’m in.
24. Happy Endings (Wednesdays @ 9:30pm on ABC)
This was a midseason replacement for ABC last season. I think I read a good review of it. And I think maybe I saw a good preview for it. And I think someone might have even told me it was a pretty good show.
So I Season Passed (yes, that’s a verb now) it last year. And then I kept reading that it would probably get cancelled. And then it didn’t. And now I have a season’s worth of Happy Endings (I only wish that was as good as it sounds) sitting on my DVR waiting to be watched BEFORE I can even get into this season’s shows. Of course, something tells me I’d be able to pick up the storylines without the benefit of having viewed last season pretty quickly. And by pretty quickly, I mean by the end of the opening credits during this season’s premiere.
23. Hung (Sundays @ 10pm on HBO)
This show is so Goddamn slow. And it’s borderline terrible. And I can’t really remember a time when I thought it was good. Yet, I am now entering my third season of watching it. The only excuse I can offer is that it goes on after HBO shows that I actually enjoy, and I’m too lazy to change the channel and find something else to watch. First I say, “Hello, my name is Scott, and I have a TV problem.” And then you say, “Hi, Scott!”
22. American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior (Mondays @ 9pm on Discovery)
I’m about 74.8% certain that the Discovery Network has orchestrated the entire Teutel family feud. Without the brawl, the split into two companies, and the awkwardly painful father/son dynamics, this show would have been relegated into “oh wait, these are actually new episodes?” territory ala Dirty Jobs and other completely formulaic serial shows on cable networks about 2 seasons ago.
Despite this, I still find myself going through spells where this show starts building up 3 or 4 episodes in the DVR queue…and not really caring that that has happened. That’s probably not a good sign.
21. Gossip Girl (Mondays @ 8pm on The CW)
As a seasoned veteran of the Beverly Hills, 90210 franchise, I can tell you that I have some very real concerns for Gossip Girl. We are one main character trying to get a record deal away from this show entering the same sad state of affairs that 90120 entered during it’s personal Death March of Bataan some 11 years ago.
Yep, that was only 11 years ago. Of course, the show was dead for about 3-5 years prior to that, but no one had the heart to tell them. It’s almost as if FOX was just pulling off some giant Weekend at Bernies scam on its’ viewers as they dragged the corpse formerly known as Beverly Hills, 90210 around until any and all signs of life had finally shriveled up and fallen off of it. (“The prosecution would like to call 58 year-old Ian Ziering to the stand….and the prosecution rests”).
The mere fact that as you’re reading this, you’re no doubt saying to yourself, “Yep, I could see Serena launching a music video this season” is really all you need to know about the dire state this show is in.
Check out part 2 of the TVpocalypse Pre-Season Top 25 poll !