12:50pm PT by Jethro Nededog
NBC's 'The Playboy Club' Argues It's All About Women's Empowerment
NBC’s new series, The Playboy Club, depicts the lives of the women who worked as its bunnies in the 60s, surrounded by the men who run the club, its ogling clientele, and the mafia.
On the surface, viewers will see the scantily clad women and the handsome men who seem to rule their world, but the show’s executive producers and cast argue that the show is mostly about the female characters and their empowerment.
“This show is all about empowering these women to be whatever they want to be,” executive producer Chad Hodge tells a room of reporters at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Press Tour.
And in fact, the women and their empowerment was the biggest topic of conversation during the TCA session. It seemed that the network expected that. As part of its panel introduction, it named former playboy bunnies who have gone on to successful careers, including media maven Barbara Walters, model Lauren Hutton, and punk rocker Deborah Harry, as well as federal judge, Kimba Wood, and world-renown immunologist Patty Matzinger.
“There are many women who went on to do things, have careers, become entrepreneurs,” star, Amber Heard, says. “There are women who have talked to us about their experience. I have yet to meet an ex-bunny who is disgruntled about her experience. I have talked to many women who look back fondly and are thankful for that experience.”
Possibly the show’s biggest challenge is the misconception that these women are both Playboy Club bunnies and Playboy magazine centerfolds – a very important distinction, though Hugh Hefner is the figurehead behind both. The panel points out that certainly the bunnies can become centerfolds if they wanted to, but that’s not a precursor to getting a job at the Club.
“These women were using so much more than [their bodies],” cast member Naturi Naughton argues. “It’s empowering, because these girls were smart, they’re going to school, they’re buying homes, property – things that show what women couldn’t do at the time, using resources and relying on themselves.”
The Playboy Club premieres Sept. 19 at 9 p.m. on NBC.