In an August Hollywood Reporter article about NBC's new show The Playboy Club, Gloria Steinem, who worked undercover at the club to report on working conditions, predicted the show would not "depict the scene realistically." And if last night's episode was an allusion to Steinem's Bunny stint, the show has indeed taken rewriting history to a new level.
The episode introduces us to Bunny Doris, who we first see auditioning for a job at the club. Even though Club Manager Billy thinks she's "full of herself," Bunny Mother Carol-Lynne sticks her neck out and hires the enthusiastic applicant. Then we see Doris shakily begin her Bunny career, barely able to walk in her high heels. Despite the never-ending slew of annoying questions Doris fires at her new colleagues, her fellow Bunnies happily welcome her and give her the inside scoop.
Unfortunately, Doris turns out to be an undercover reporter for the Daily News. The friendly little Bunnies have been duped. But instead of reporting on sexual harassment, low wages and mandatory STD testing, like Steinem did (guess the rule against "dating" keyholders doesn't prohibit other activities...), Doris writes a sensationalized story, entitled "Bloody Bunny," about a Bunny who killed a man. In the one twist I actually didn't expect, that Bunny ends up being Janie (not Maureen, who we saw kill a man in the pilot), but of course Don Draper wannabe Nick Dalton saves the day, somewhat inexplicably.
Part two of the "Bloody Bunny" story is buried, and Doris is shamed by Carol-Lynne after she tries to explain herself:
Mother Bunny Carol-Lynne: These girls come from all walks of life, and they're just trying to go somewhere better ... we give these girls a chance. I don't understand why you would want to destroy that.
Bad Bunny Doris: I came here to find a big story, and I thought this was the kind of place where terrible, illicit things happened.
MBC: And instead you found a group of hard-working girls just trying to make a life for themselves. Why don't you write about that?
BBD: Because that kind of story doesn't sell papers.
MBC: Maybe not, but at least it's the truth.
So ... is that what Steinem should have written about? How Playboy empowered hard-working girls? Sadly, as much as the male producers of The Playboy Club are trying to convince viewers that Bunnies were the only women who could be anything they wanted, that they were changing the world, it's simply not the truth. I'm not even sure it's a television show ... seems more like a PR campaign.
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