NBC TCA Talk: Amber Heard and producers preview 'The Playboy Club'
According to Bob Greenblatt, NBC Entertainment's Chairman, The Playboy Club is "a really fun soap." Though it takes place during the swinging, sexy sixties just like another network's new drama, it is designed to be melodramatic and charismatic, despite dealing with some dark plot points, like the mob, murder, and extramarital affair mischief. Though the series is based in part on real life bunnies' experiences, the drama will be heightened for air, and as the season unfolds, a secret about each fictional lady will be revealed. Some even start in the pilot episode!
Obviously there are early comparisons already being made to AMC's drama darling Mad Men, simply because of the shared time period, but executive producer Ian Biederman shared that The Playboy Club will focus most more heavily on music.
"The themes of the songs correlate to the themes of the episodes," he said. "We are paying careful attention to who we have sing the songs based on what the song will say about the particular episode."
Some of the bunnies, then, may reveal secret talents of the musical variety (especially Brenda!), but above all else it is the fact that these women are so well-rounded and so intelligent that might surprise many. The tagline of the show is "The men may hold the keys, but the women are running the show," and series co-star Naturi Naughton points out that "there is no Playboy Club without these women! It's like Disney world for adults!"
Yet, the show is focused on the clubs of the sixties, not the magazine, so producers want to assure audiences it is not out to exploit or even shock with overt sexuality or scandal.
"It's mild compared to a lot of stuff that's on television," Biederman said. "The intent is to show characters at a certain time period and place…It's not trying to be racy, as I think anyone who has seen the pilot will tell you. It's a great ride for an hour."
Instead, Biederman and co-EPs Francie Calfo and Chad Hodge promise that the series will be extremely character driven and can be considered almost empowering because of it. After all, women of the fifties were going straight from their fathers' homes to their husbands', but as the revolution in the sixties began, things started to change a bit. Though many of these fictional bunnies do have husbands, they are at least able to provide for themselves and their families on their own by holding down this job. They are using the resources at their disposal to better their situations, putting themselves through school and buying themselves homes and property. "I feel very fortunate to be a part of this younger generation where I don't have to choose between combat boots and an apron. I can do it in heels!" Series star Amber Heard exclaimed. "The early sixties were a very hopeful time…and those are the things we're interested in focusing on," Biederman pointed out. When Hugh Hefner sat down with producers to discuss the show, he made sure to explain that "it's all about the women– the bunnies. Nothing else matters." The culture that surrounds them, of course, will be incorporated and become tantamount as episodes progress. "Everything was about to happen, the bubble was about to burst. This is pre-Stonewall, pre women-lib…right on the cusp before everything was about to boil over," Heard said. The series, therefore, WILL show gay and lesbian characters, although they are not neccessarily out and proud. This sub-arc will be focused around Alice (Leah Renee), who though she is married, has a secret life that the other bunnies may come to learn about soon enough. Additionally, we will see the women struggling with the fact that now they are making more in a night than many others make all week. And misunderstandings about who they really are as bunnies and what they are willing to do are bound to come up, as well. Though the bunnies can be centerfolds if they want to, they are not automatically entered into that world, nor are they there to do anything sexual with the members. But that doesn't mean the men necessarily know and/or respect that at all times. Still, the women are there because they want to be– because the show is affording them a lifestyle they wouldn't be able to get anywhere else. "It comes down to choices. If the [women are] making the choices, they're not being exploited…I think it is chauvinistic to deny a woman her sexuality." Well said, but still may prove tough to balance for a show that is claiming not to be about sex!
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