Late Night FDL: “Playboy Club,” Buhbye!

NBC has cancelled The Playboy Club, the sexy melodrama–set in the mid-1960s Chicago and centering around the flagship key club–which was one of the most subversive series on network television. TalkAboutEquality explained why:

The two characters who they try to make us believe are a young attractive married couple happen to be gay. And not only that – they are running a meeting of the Chicago chapter of the Mattachine Society!

The characters in the Playboy Club (a lesbian Playboy Bunny and a gay man) are in what was referred to as a “lavender marriage.” This was a common occurrence and still exists today when someone feels the need to hide their sexuality by marrying someone of the opposite gender.

Plus, openly gay Sean Maher plays the male half of the lavender marriage, while Amber Heard, who stars as the blond Bunny-in-training with a deadly secret, has been dating a woman for three years:

To say I came out implies that I was once in. Let me be straight about that—no pun intended—I never came out from anywhere. I’ve always lived my life the way I’ve wanted and have been honest with myself and everyone around me. It didn’t really affect anything in my career. I don’t think the producers and directors I’ve worked with care one way or another … I don’t want to be labeled as one thing or another. In the past I’ve had successful relationships with men, and now I’m in this successful relationship with a woman. When it comes to love I am totally open. And I don’t want to be put into a category, as in ‘I’m this’ or ‘I’m that.’ … [Gay marriage] is an important issue, and I’m fighting for the right to get married. For other people.

The Parents’ Television Council targeted advertisers, upset over what they perceived as a mainstreaming of pornography and the objectification of women; and Gloria Steinem, herself once a Playboy Bunny, both called for a boycott.

I watched the show and thought it was a fun morality play, complete with politics, America on the brink of change, murder, secrets, love, intrigue, and great costumes. Plus it showed the strides being made in civil rights for African Americans.

Regarding the Parents Television Council calling the whaambulance: seriously, it was on after 9pm, and as parents, it’s your responsibility to monitor what your kids watch. And you don’t like it, don’t watch it!

44 Responses to "Late Night FDL: “Playboy Club,” Buhbye!"
Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:03 pm 1

I kinda liked the show, and had it on my TiVo. One Halloween, before I was born, my father wore a smoking jacket and rabbit ears ot a party as Hugh Hefner. My mother made herself a pumpkin costume. No wonder they divorced!

Elliott | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:03 pm 2


I didn’t realize this show even existed – I hope a more enlightened network picks it up

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:09 pm 3

I watched it after reading about it on Talk About Equality. I love it’s subversive nature. And I also am relieved that that it wasn’t targeted because if its LGBT aspect. I hope they’ll put it out on DVD or something. You can catch it on hulu.

DrDick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:11 pm 4


Can’t say that I ever saw the show or wanted to, but the reaction seems rather overblown. speaking of which, the Parents’ Television Council can blow me. As you say, it is the parents’ responsibility to monitor and regulate what their children watch. Mine certainly had no problems telling me that I could not watch certain shows when I was growing up.

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:13 pm 5

Seriously, it did present positive roles of women coming into their own: One woman had run away form her abusive husband. The Afro-American Bunny was saving all her money to buy a house, eventhough she had here all her life “colored girls don’t own things.” She was hoping to be the first “chocolate centerfold.” The lead guy, Nick, was running for City Attorney but owed a debt to the Mob (and he helped cover up the blond bunny’s murder–the victim was a big deal mobster–the man who paid for Nick’s law school education) It was good fun, and I really enjoyed the subplot of the lavender marriage.

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:14 pm 6
In response to DrDick @ 4

Totally. Like seriously, there are lots of shows on TV and DVD they can let their kids watch.

seabe | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:15 pm 7

Is it fair to say that Steinem was “once a Playboy Bunny” as if she was actually a Playboy Bunny? She got a job as one at the Playboy Club to work on an expose article. It’s like saying a DEA agent was once a drug dealer for working on the inside of a drug syndicate.

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:15 pm 8

In other showbiz news, I hope Chaz Bono makes it through Dancing wiht the Stars tonight.

DrDick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:16 pm 9
In response to Lisa Derrick @ 6

I know I set the standards for what and when my son watched on TV when he was growing up.

EvilDrPuma | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:20 pm 10
In response to DrDick @ 9

What the heck did you let the little guy watch? There is no Political-Economic Critique Channel…

DrDick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:24 pm 11
In response to EvilDrPuma @ 10

Mostly just kids’ shows when he was younger, but pretty much whatever he wanted after he was 13. I have always thought that if you have raised them right and given them a proper grounding in values, nothing they see on TV is going to warp them.

tammanytiger | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:25 pm 12

Time out for trivia: the last surviving Playboy Club in the United States was located in Lansing, Michigan (my home state). It closed in 1988.

DrDick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:25 pm 13
In response to EvilDrPuma @ 10

I should also point out that I am one of those weirdos (big surprise there, I know) who got more radical as he aged. I only really became a socialist in my late 40s, after he was grown.

DrDick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:29 pm 14

Think I will call it an early night. Take care all.

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:33 pm 15

Night Dr.Dick!

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:43 pm 16

I have been going ot Occupy LA everyday. DO any of you have Occupy in your cities?

Dearie | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:50 pm 17

As a young wife in the late 60s early 70s, I didn’t much care for the vibe that the Playboy Club imposed on us. All the young husbands were fed this idea that women should be sexy objects. I didn’t find the program to be amusing. Having lived through it, I wasn’t much interested in seeing it fancified.

Dearie | Tuesday October 4, 2011 08:53 pm 18

I also think the show was dishonest. I don’t recall any chocolate bunnies….and doubt that there were any ‘lavender’ couples who got away with it. And I still respect Gloria Steinem for exposing the Playboy Club.

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:11 pm 19

First African-American Playmate: Jennifer Jackson (Miss March 1965)

which is what the show was depicting.

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:13 pm 20

And lavender marriages did and do exist. If people got away with them, we wouldn’t necessarily know about them. And really if TV depicted reality, Westerns would have flies and horse poop everywhere.

Dearie | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:13 pm 21
In response to Lisa Derrick @ 19

Okay, surprised it was that early. Good on ‘em, I guess?

psalongo | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:13 pm 22

If ya don’t like the show, then don’t watch it. Just how hard is this concept!

marymccurnin | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:15 pm 23
In response to Dearie @ 18

There are lavender’ couples now. Of course, they got away with it. People adapt and survive in the most create ways.

There is a showtime special about Hefner. He isn’t as bad as you might expect. In some ways, he was very enlightened. The Innocents exhibition at the MoCP was supported by the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation.
Hefner helped get a wrongly convicted man out of jail. I can’t remember the specifics. But his vision for and of women is icky.

Dearie | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:17 pm 24

Sorry, Lisa. I guess it’s just me. I know how young wives felt in those day…..before everyone ‘corrected’ themselves with boob jobs. Nose jobs, of course, were common. Have you ever noticed that so many old women have the same freakin’ nose?! It’s a hoot once you notice it. While the Playboy Club freed up sexual expression, it also put some pressure on just folks. I still think Hugh is an obscene excuse for a human being. But, hey, my neo-con twin brother assures me that “men are dogs.”

Dearie | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:18 pm 25

psalongo: if enough people liked the show, it wouldn’t have been canceled so fast.

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:21 pm 26
In response to Dearie @ 24

No apologies! You experienced those years!

The Hef of the past 20 yrs is icky. I appreciate the impact Playboy had on the cultural revolution and the exposure the mag gave/gives to writers (yes some people read it for the articles!).

Nose jobs have come a long way since the 60s.

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:24 pm 27
In response to Dearie @ 25

ratings are a tricking thing, since the people who watch aren’t necessarily the people who are part of the Neilsen pool of polled.

tejanarusa | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:25 pm 28

Hi, Dearie – honestly, although I didn’t get a chance to watch the show, I suspect it’s a lot more appealing as a “period piece.” Few things about a time one lived through are quite as charming as the historical. I get everything you’re saying, but I can see the potential for such a show, too.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Hefner. Must confess I used to read my dad’s Playboy mags while the parents were out of the house (he hid them, of course, but there were only so many hiding places.) I went for the ribald stories and questions about sex. I learned so much! Being a sheltered only child, after all.

I’m about to be 62, so younger than you, I think; just enough to have seen Playboy as liberal and liberalizing, so mostly good. It’s been awhile since I could see Hefner that way…he’s pretty gross.

I’m kinda sorry the show didn’t get more of a chance; when I first heard about it I thought it could go either way…interesting and valuable, or just ordinary exploitative and worthless. Too bad we didn’t get to find out.
Oh, your comment about old women’s noses…too funny. When I was in high school and college nose jobs were pretty common, too.

Dearie | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:27 pm 29
In response to Lisa Derrick @ 26

Hey, Lisa, I don’t want to rant….but I do find it interesting that so many women changed their nose to fit some ‘standard’….and that the next generation(s) found some need to improve their boobs so that they could feel acceptable. And Hef and his ‘girlfriends’ over the years is really creepy. And, yes, I do like the articles…and some good writers got a place to shine. And, Hey!, we got to learn that Jimmy Carter lusted in his heart. Can’t discount that.

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:28 pm 30
In response to tejanarusa @ 28

I read my dad’s Playboys too-the jokes, single panel cartoons and questions. And the centerfold questionnaires. I learned A LOT!

Dearie | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:31 pm 31

I also learned stuff from the Playboy questions and answers. The fact that the magazine was always hidden, though, tells me that something was going on. Think about the message of the hiddenness… and all those boys and girls sneaking to look and read. What message were they getting?

john in sacramento | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:40 pm 32
In response to marymccurnin @ 23

Hey Mary

Are you going to OccupySac on Thursday?

Send me an email if you want to meet up (been busy, busy, busy with family health issues)

tejanarusa | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:45 pm 33
In response to Dearie @ 31

Very true. It was a regular meme: where does your dad hide his Playboys?

tejanarusa | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:46 pm 34
In response to tejanarusa @ 33

Uh, what happened? I had typed:
It was a regular meme in those days: “Where does your dad hide his Playboys?”

tejanarusa | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:47 pm 35

Apologies. I couldn’t see anything in that first post. Now after a refresh they’re both showing. Never had that happen before.

Dearie | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:49 pm 36
In response to tejanarusa @ 34

My question would be: What does your mother think/feel about your dad hiding his Playboy? What do your brothers/sisters feel/think about your dad hiding his Playboy? How do you feel/think about your dad hiding his Playboy? What messages were being delivered during that time?

Dearie | Tuesday October 4, 2011 09:58 pm 37
In response to Dearie @ 36

How did all that hiding make you feel about yourself if you were a boy? If you were a girl? If you were the wifey? And how would a recent TV show enhance that experience….or rewrite it?

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday October 4, 2011 10:05 pm 38

My dad didn’t “hide” them, but he had a trunk full of old ones in the basement.

Probably people who hid them form their kids did so because they had kids. But hiding them form wives–maybe because they felt the wives would disapprove?

tejanarusa | Tuesday October 4, 2011 10:19 pm 39
In response to Dearie @ 36

Dunno what my mother thought; not a topic that ever came up. I couldn’t admit I knew they were there, y’know!
No siblings, so, nothing there, either.
Certainly, the sense that sex was dirty was part of it; on the other hand, all that stuff was published legally, so the message was sorta mixed.

psalongo | Tuesday October 4, 2011 11:26 pm 40
In response to Dearie @ 25

Perhaps, and I don’t have a problem with cancellation due to lack of viewership. It’s when a few busy bodies decide for everybody what we can watch that really irks me.

ralphbon | Wednesday October 5, 2011 02:15 am 41

I personally couldn’t get into the show, maybe because it reminded me that the mummified Hugh Hefner still walks the earth, making a show of schtupping and occasionally wedding ambitious nubile 20-somethings. All power to him, I should add; I just don’t want my brain to go there. Maybe if his empire had gone under, I’d be in a better frame of mind to watch. (Apropos, I’m currently getting my Mad Men-coattails retro-kitch jollies from Pan Am, for all its flaws. My wife thinks I’m an idiot.)

As for the Parents Television Council, they should count themselves lucky indeed if their demon spawn polish their knobs on nothing more salacious than a Playboy.

Ro-Man XP47 | Wednesday October 5, 2011 02:42 am 42

I watched it, but can’t say that I would have continued to. Seemed to me nothing so much as a bald, pricey attempt to clone the success of Mad Men. Ashes to Ashes, yadda yadda.

cregan | Wednesday October 5, 2011 07:54 am 43
In response to Dearie @ 36

Lots of people hide all kinds of things. The most destructive thing you can do. Of all the things people hide, a Playboy magazine was small potatoes. More important might be the things people are hiding from themselves.

Woodrow L. Goode, IV | Wednesday October 5, 2011 12:27 pm 44

Lisa, you need to send your TV to the shop. Clearly you didn’t see the same show that anyone else watched. The show was a contrived melodrama, populated with cardboard characters, portrayed by people who couldn’t act.

In addition, it got so many details of both 1960′s Chicago and the Playboy club wrong that even people who worked at the Chicago club complained about it.

Almost every critic had this show as one of the worst of the new season. The only reason it wasn’t the worst is that there were so many horrific shows (Charlie’s Angels, Last Man Standing, I Hate My Teenage Daughter) that it was difficult to get a consensus.

Whether NBC is capable of programming anything better is highly doubtful, but anyone sorry to see this show go is publicly admitting a dearth of taste.

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