'The Playboy Club' Recycles All Your Favorite Shows' Cliches

the playboy club nbc pilotIt's clear from their four Emmys for outstanding drama series, Mad Men has a winning formula. But can it be replicated ... well? The answer, at least judging from the pilot of NBC's The Playboy Club, is NO. As a loyal, borderline obsessed Draper & Co. fan, last night's premiere just made me so, well, MAD! Because it's clear that TV execs are so unoriginal, so uninspired, they just think they can mooch from Matthew Weiner and get away with it. It's an insult to us, the TV viewer.

Sure, Weiner may say he's not being "ripped off," because he doesn't "own the period" of the early '60s, but with The Playboy Club, it's more than that. From the score to the desperately dramatic (but hopelessly schlocky) dialogue, the script and acting are a blatant, bad Xerox of Mad Men.


You know how in that Michael Keaton movie, Multiplicity, the fourth clone of Doug has a desperately low, sub-Forrest Gump IQ? That's Playboy Club vs. Mad Men.

But okay, even if we were to put all of that aside, we're still left with a weak plot set-up.

I may have been down with this show if the writers had the talent to make it character-driven like Mad Men, but clearly, that's outside of their skill set, because they're leaning on a totally played-out mob murder Sopranos-esque storyline that looks like it will carry through all of season one (if the show makes it through its whole season, that is). 

Within the first 10 minutes, we see Bunny Maureen (played by Amber Heard, who was clearly hired for her resemblance to January Jones and Kendra Wilkinson vs. her acting ability) fend off a rape in the back room of the club by an aggressive, burly, and bald keyholder. The poor man's Don Draper lawyer/playboy Nick Dalton (played by Eddie Cibrian, that guy who left his wife for the skeletor known as LeAnn Rimes) steps in, but it's Maureen who accidentally kills the bastard by shoving her stiletto heel into his neck. We soon learn he's a mob boss. Cue major DRAMA! Sigh.

The only redeeming qualities so far: Jenna Dewan (from Step Up) plays a bunny dating the bartender who has some kind of secret marriage; Naturi Naughton, who played Lane's Bunny GF on Mad Men last year, stars as "chocolate Bunny Brenda" and brings quality acting and perhaps an interesting plotline to the table; and I'm intrigued by Leah Renee's character, Bunny Alice, a closeted lesbian married to a closeted gay man. So, hey, maybe it's possible for the women behind the Bunny costumes to save this show. But as long as their stories serve as colorful subplot background to this ridiculous mafia hook, I wouldn't bet on it.

Did you watch The Playboy Club? What did you think?


Image via NBC

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