Five Ways NBC Can Avoid a Gloria Steinem-Led Boycott of The Playboy Club

Categories: Film and TV
Gloria Steinem
August is half over, and while usually this means we get a little melancholic about the end of summer, it's always comforting to know that the fall TV season is just around the corner. No show is getting more buzz than NBC's The Playboy Club, a '60s look back at the club and its sexy patrons and employees (that is in no way derivative of any other critically acclaimed shows set in the '60s).

However, not all the buzz is positive. Noted feminist activist Gloria Steinem is calling for a boycott of the show, citing it as "normalizing prostitution and male dominance." She adds, "Clearly The Playboy Club is not going to be accurate. It was the tackiest place on earth. It was not glamorous at all."

We've gone back to our gender studies textbooks in pursuit of a solution to this kerfuffle that can please both Steinem and NBC.

5. Tone Down the Raunchiness and Objectification

Maybe NBC should give in to the protests and retool the show for sensitive audiences. Instead of a hedonistic hot spot, the Playboy Club could be a wholesome malt shop. And instead of being a hotbed for sexual promiscuity, characters can go steady and save themselves for marriage. While they are at it, just cancel The Playboy Club and air old episodes of Happy Days. Remember the Fonz?

4. Emphasize the Positive Aspects of Working at the Playboy Club

Yes, in many ways, The Playboy Club represents a low point in women's rights when objectification was the status quo. But what about all the good things the club did for women? There weren't any, but that doesn't mean writers can't take a few creative liberties. Dental coverage, affordable day care, and big tips could be written into the show as reasons the girls like working at the Playboy Club. Plus, Playboy required women to be regularly tested for STDs, so maybe the producers can incorporate Hef's concern for his employees' health into the show's plot?

PRNewsFoto/Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
Hugh Hefner at The Playboy Club
3. Stay Misogynistic but Be Progressive

Portraying the Playboy Club as anything other than completely sexist is a losing battle, but that doesn't mean the show's characters can't be for social progress in other ways. If a patron is going to grab a Playboy Bunny's ass, have him say to no one in particular: "You know, if my daughter were dating a black fellow, I'd be OK with it" so the audience can overlook his lecherous nature. Perhaps the manager of the Playboy Club could make a remark about being pro-union before using his position of power to sexually harass his workers. We say end the season with none other than Hef himself denouncing the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

2. Write Gloria Steinem Onto the Show

It's like the old saying goes: If you can't beat your enemy, portray them on your network TV show in a disparaging manner. Gloria Steinem actually worked undercover at the Playboy Club to prove its harsh working conditions for women. The show's producers should use this fact to their advantage. The character of Gloria could rail against the Playboy Club for oppressing women, and all the other characters can call her a stick-in-the-mud and offer her a Virginia Slims cigarette. This can lead to a shocking midseason reveal that the real reason Gloria works so hard to crush the patriarchy is that nobody asked her to prom in high school. Grounds for a libel lawsuit? Of course. But think of the ratings!

1. Do Nothing (the Show Will Just Get Cancelled Anyway)

The Playboy Club will air on NBC, a network that hasn't had a dramatic hit series that didn't end in "& Order" in about a decade. Is the show sexist? It doesn't matter. It will be lucky to make it to May sweeps. Sure, the network's main competition Monday nights might seem to be Castle and Hawaii Five-0, two shows that are watched by practically nobody. However, NBC will also face competition from a little show called Monday Night Football. Expect viewers to tune into the NFL Monday nights, and if they want to watch '60s nostalgic misogyny afterward, they'll pop in their DVDs of Mad Men.

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