Is 'The Playboy Club' Offensive -- Or Just Bad?


NBC's "The Playboy Club" is having trouble finding viewers. Why? Too much association with sex? Too little? Or just not compelling entertainment?

Moralists say the low ratings result from all the objectification the Playboy brand brought on women over the years. I'll listen to that argument.

But then they toss in the another point, which makes no sense based on the original theory. They say it's also because of "lame" dialogue, which after two weeks gives the show a just-lying-there 1.3 rating among key 18-49 viewers.

So, I'm guessing -- by this argument -- if "The Playboy Club" had better dialogue, it would be a better show? Right?

You can't have it both ways. My suggestion is to stick with one strategy. You want to play TV moralist? Fine. You want to play TV critic? Sure. But keep them separate -- you'll get more attention and have a better chance at winning the argument.



"The Playboy Club" -- the TV show -- might not seem right to the men who have read -- and looked at -- Playboy magazine. Where, after all, are the naked women? Sure, there is some intrigue, and some beautiful women. If this show was indeed successful for male viewers, ratings on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" would be low, and late-season Boston Red Sox or Atlanta Braves games would go wanting.

Virtually all non-sports network prime-time programms primarily seek women viewers. Typically, adult women comprise about 60% of all primetime viewers.

If NBC wanted to purposely alienate this audience, it would be a bad business decision. The network knows better. What do networks want more than anything else, more than "art," "fine acting," and "great writing"? They want to make money.

More mis-direction: One noted pressure group says things have gone so bad for the show that advertisers are leaving.

The trouble is that most times -- no matter what is claimed -- we never really know why advertisers leave. You cannot compare shows week to week and just count advertisers who are in and those who are out. Media plans for advertisers have different program mixes per week. Not only that, but many advertisers have specific media flight plans that can last a week, or three weeks, or four.

And yes, some advertisers might leave because the show gets poor ratings.

But the truth is that, by mid-September, there are no surprises concerning scripted shows. Media buyers and their clients see episodes long before we see them on air. These marketers are not novices in understanding what content they are buying.

So let see. Have you seen any FCC-forbidden naked women on this particular 10 p.m. show? Nope. Has there been any FCC-forbidden language in the show? No.

Hey, maybe if indeed "The Playboy Club" has no viewers and fewer advertisers, the show... just sucks.

7 comments about "Is 'The Playboy Club' Offensive -- Or Just Bad?".
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  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., September 29, 2011 at 3:06 p.m.

    Thanks Wayne - I was worried when I saw the promos for this. You know we're reaching when the "good ol' days" are the mid-60's (Playboy Club, Pan Am) - and on a related note..."Charlie's Angels" AGAIN??

  2. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, September 29, 2011 at 3:46 p.m.

    Based on the promo's (and how Fox increases ratings with titillation, my guess is - bad dialogue. It sure looked pretty dumb.

    But it's always convenient to use something like this to bolster one's belief in one's own moral righteousness.

  3. Terry Wall from First Impressions VIdeo, September 29, 2011 at 4:23 p.m.

    Notwithstanding the rather blatant rip off of "Mad Men," just like "Pan Am" is trying to do, I think you're dead on right, Wayne...the show just sucks! Just sayin'!


  4. Thomas Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, September 29, 2011 at 5:10 p.m.

    One key problem with both these retro-60's shows -- the very bad "Playboy Club" and the less bad "Pan Am" -- is that they both feel the need to inject some unrealistic thrills into their shows because the central characters and plotlines obviously weren't deemed interesting enough to stand on their own. A murder in the "Playboy" opener, an espionage thread through "Pan Am."

    AMC's "Mad Men" remains compelling without gimmicks because the characters are so well-drawn and interesting. We hang on the minutia of their lives, because we believe their lives.

    Worse, "Playboy Club" looks cheap and has truly horrible dialogue. "Pan Am" at least visually captures the aura of the age and has a little bit of sass.

  5. Patricia Friedlander from Word-Up!, September 29, 2011 at 7:24 p.m.

    Silly plot, horrific dialog, trite as motherhood and apple pie--just awful, awful, awful. Sets are cheesy, as well. Sucks.

  6. Marla Goldstein from Around The Bend Media, September 29, 2011 at 10:47 p.m.

    I can't let this go unchallenged:

    More mis-direction: One noted pressure group says things have gone so bad for the show that advertisers are leaving.

    I take it that you write opinion pieces, rather than true journalism. At least, I hope so. Because several of these advertisers that the PTC is taking credit for scaring off The Playboy Club have announced that either it was never their intention to advertise in the second airing of the show or that they have plans to advertise in subsequent episodes.

    Full disclosure: I have yet to watch it, but it's on my DVR for when I do have the time to catch up. And just because KSL decided they wouldn't air it without so much as viewing the pilot is utterly meaningless. This is a station that to this day, doesn't air SNL. I wonder if, in the past 35-36 seasons they've ever caught an episode of it.

  7. Stan Valinski from Multi-Media Solutions Group, September 30, 2011 at 2:15 p.m.

    I agree with Wayne & the just sucks. However the low sampling numbers can be attributed, in part, to casting. In this era of a 24 hour news cycle that includes heavy doses of gossip you just don't cast a male lead that some women find dispicable. In a competitive time period it could be the difference in a viewer's final decision to sample or not. Why gamble in the first place?

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