Tuesday, September 27, 2011

OPINION: I Like THE PLAYBOY CLUB for its Soapy Drama, Hot Girls & Cute Boys!

Bunny Mother Carol-Lynn (Laura Benanti) warns Bunny Maureen (Amber Heard, who could be Scarlett Johansson’s stunt double, if she does stunts) that Chicago can be dangerous in the latest episode of THE PLAYBOY CLUB. The new show’s second episode started connecting the dots laid out in last week’s premiere, linking characters together in ways we may not have seen coming.

Let me catch you up. Maureen accidentally murdered Chicago mob boss Bruno Bianchi at the start of the series. And when slick lawyer and would-be politician Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian) helped her dispose of the body, and clean up the mess, Nick’s girlfriend, Bunny Mother Carol-Lynn, mistakenly thought Nick and Maureen had a sexual tryst. Now, Carol-Lynn is riding Maureen extra hard as she puts all of the bunnies through bunny training, and Maureen freaks out when she finds someone has used Bruno’s club key to enter the club.

Meanwhile, Hef has announced that he wants a Chicago Bunny on the cover of next month’s Playboy, and everybunny who is anybunny wants to be that coverbunny. Everybunny except Bunny Janie (Jenna Dewan). Her boyfriend, club bartender Max (Wes Ramsey), thinks she should submit some hot photos he has of her, and he says she’ll definitely get the cover and the $2000 that goes with it. She insists she doesn’t want it, but she won’t explain why.

Then there’s the closeted lesbian Bunny Alice (Leah Renee) and her closeted gay husband Sean (Sean Maher) who are going to be forced to make happy married straight faces over dinner for Sean’s parents. Alice requests the night off, and Carol-Lynn grants it, but she tells her that she should be proud of being a bunny and not try to hide it from anyone. If only Carol-Lynn knew how much Alice was hiding!

When Brenda (Naturi Naughton) catches Maureen with a club key, Maureen lies and says she wants to wear it around her neck in the contest for the cover. Memo to Bunny Maureen: you killed the owner of that key, who happened to be a mob boss, if anyone finds out, you’ll be a dead bunny, get rid of the damn key! It’s bad enough that Carol-Lynn just found your bloody bunny costume from the night of the murder! How much evidence do you want against you?

Carol-Lynn confronts Maureen about the bloody costume and Maureen makes up a story about being assaulted by a “street man”. She’s also able to paint Nick as her rescuer and finally convince Carol-Lynn that they did not have sex. There’s a whole subplot about dirty Chicago politics with Nick, the mob and Mayor Daley, but I won’t bore you with anything not directly involving the bunnies! We are watching the show for the bunnies after all, aren't we? And Eddie Cibrian’s pretty face.

Realizing she was wrong about Nick and Maureen, Carol-Lynn reunites with Nick. I like them together. I’m sure their happiness will be short-lived, so I will enjoy it while it lasts. Carol-Lynn is still suspicious that Maureen wants Nick, so she gives her a stern warning. She also gives her the moniker "The Scarlett Bunny."

Lesbunny Alice got her Christmas present early when Maureen asked her to take pictures of her to use in for her cover submission. Maureen was smoky hot and Alice was breathless. Of all the secrets that the audience is learning about these bunnies, Alice and her husband being gay, given the time and place, is certainly one of the most dramatic.

Janey was shocked and appalled to find she was one of the five finalists in the cover contest, along with Maureen and Brenda. She didn’t even submit! When Hef chooses her for the cover she tells Max the truth: She’s married! To a crazy man! He doesn’t know where she is… but he has a subscription to Playboy! I would like to have seen Janey’s secret be a little deeper than a runaway wife, but we already have a lesbian married to a homosexual man and a bunny who murdered a mob boss via stiletto to the throat, so I’ll just cope with this somewhat less than juicy revelation. Even though we’ve seen this type of reveal before, it’s hard not to get giddy at the line “he has no idea where I am, but he has a subscription to Playboy!”

Yes, a lot of this show is wrapped in soapy cliché, but over that it’s rewrapped in the cool, elegance of the Playboy brand and the dawn of a new era of sexual freedom. Who wouldn’t want to be a bunny, or a Playboy Club keyholder?

Brenda and Maureen both really want the cover. Brenda shares a secret. She's saving for real estate. This is more of a yawn than Janey being married to a “really crazy man” but I’m going to assume Brenda has another skeleton in her closet somewhere. Brenda tries to explain to Maureen that most black women don’t own anything, and I can at least appreciate the historical significance that is being given to Brenda, I just don’t know if it’s juicy enough for a sexy prime time sudser in 2011.

Nick explains to Maureen he used to be the Bianchi's "fixer." He cleaned things up for the mob. He's experienced at this stuff, so she needn't worry about them finding out she killed Bruno. I was glad we learned what exactly Nick’s mafia role was, also, this makes his expert body disposal make perfect sense.

The dinner with Sean's parents was certainly looking like it would be as humdrum as Brenda’s real estate dreams, as Alice dodged (ignored really) the grandbaby question. But then Sean's dad surprises and terrifies everyone (me included!) after dinner with a key to the Playboy club. He insists they all go. Their visit goes better than expect as no one exposes Alice as a bunny and Sean catches Nick Dalton shaking hands with mafia heir-apparent John Bianchi and uses that to introduce himself to Dalton and pitch himself as his campaign manager. It looks like Sean will have a bigger role, and I’m glad about that. One, he’s really hot. Two, he’s a gay character in a show that, let’s be honest, appeals to a gay audience.

When Hef is forced to choose someone other than Janey for the cover, he chooses Maureen. We learn that Maureen is trying to send a message to her dad with the cover shoot; she wants to show him that she is someone. Whoever she is, she has a nice heart, as she secretly gives some of her money from the shoot to Brenda.

We get a cliffhanger with John Bianchi vowing to find out what's going on with Maureen, who he knows danced with his father the night of his disappearance. Carol-Lynn also looks to be on the verge of discovering Maureen and Nick’s hand in the disappearance.

I love the sexy, soapiness of the this show. I can handle the melodrama. I want the melodrama. I just need a few things to be bigger. Own it, PLAYBOY CLUB! This man Janey’s hiding from better be bat-crap crazy. I assume Maureen didn’t get the love she needed from daddy, but I’m going to need to know why that matters to her and why I should care. Brenda wants real estate. So do I! This show better show me how little Brenda had when she showed up on Hef’s doorstep, so I can root for her to overcome it all. Give me more! Keep it flashy, but make everything ten times bigger. Okay? Okay. See you next Monday, PLAYBOY CLUB!

Greg Turner contributes primetime reviews for We Love Soaps.


  1. ABSOLUTELY, after this week I have fallen in love with this soapy goodness! It's setting up nicely for November sweeps, NBC needs to find a better time slot for viewing. Between DWTS & 2 & Half Men, to green to pull that kind of weight. Let the audience find this gem so far this season. So more impress with "The Playboy Club" and story then the premier episode of "Pan AM". I'm hooked.

  2. I really enjoy the Playboy Club, too. I hope that NBC gives it a chance to complete its order since its poor ratings will ensure a cancellation.