'The Playboy Club' Season 1 Preview Guide: The Story of a Young Boat Captain
'The Playboy Club' Season 1 Preview Guide: The Story of a Young Boat Captain
For starters, that subtitle pays homage to The Soup and Joel McHale's long-time infatuation with Hugh Hefner's recent style choices. The Playboy Club season 1 will premiere on NBC September 19, but there won't actually be much focus on Hugh Hefner dressed as a boat captain or otherwise. In fact, it's understood that an actor playing Hugh Hefner will be shown only from the back the few times they choose to use him. So what can viewers expect to see on The Playboy Club season 1?

Videos: Get to Know the Bunnies of The Playboy Club >>

It's actually a pretty good question. Despite a wealth of information regarding protests against The Playboy Club and an outcry for affiliates not to show it, it's unclear if anyone has actually seen much of the show.

Here's what we do know: it will focus on the first Playboy Club opened in Chicago in 1963 (coincidentally the same year ABC's Pan Am is set) and the women who work there. Bunny Maureen (Amber Heard) is new at the club and instantly finds herself in hot water with the Chicago Mafia, so she enlists the help of the suave Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian) due to his history inside the mob world.

Bunny Alice (Leah Renee) is married, but both the sexuality of her and her husband could be in dispute. Bunny Mother Carol-Lynne (Laura Benanti) presides over the rest of the stable of women, including Bunny Brenda (Naturi Naughton) who's referred to as "the chocolate Bunny" because she's black. The accomplished Brian Grazer is executive producer and Alan Taylor is attached to direct. The latter is of Mad Men fame, the show on which Playboy Club is so obviously trying to piggyback.

The Parents Television Council vs. The Playboy Club: Censorship at Its Most Inappropriate >>

Which brings me to my main point about both The Playboy Club and Pan Am, which I include because it's essentially going for the same concept, but with slightly less misogyny: Why are the networks so eager to jump on the Mad Men train? The last season premiere of Mad Men in 2010 drew in 2.9 million viewers, which is great for AMC but would be seen as dreadful for a network.

With programming, the goal should always be to create the best products possible, not to try to capitalize on fads: the copycat shows rarely compare to the original. In the case of The Playboy Club, it seems as if in addition to capitalizing on retro fads, they wanted to cram in sexuality to attract viewers and perhaps create the perfect storm for controversy. Salt Lake City affiliate KSL-TV has already said they will not air The Playboy Club -- but they also don't air Saturday Night Live, so they might not be the most realistic moral arbiter for our society.

Assuming you don't live in Salt Lake City and more affiliates don't follow suit, you can all tune in to see what the fuss is about when the Bunnies welcome you to The Playboy Club season 1 on NBC September 19 at 10pm.

Casey Casteel
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of NBC)