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
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
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.