Judging from The Playboy Club executive producer Chad Hodge's declaration that the NBC drama is all about "empowering" women, he didn't bother to read Gloria Steinem's ground-breaking essay about going undercover as a Playboy Bunny. However, Steinem did read up on the new show and shockingly enough, she doesn't think TV needs a soapier version of Mad Men that celebrates all the sexiness of the period without that pesky social commentary.
One Salt Lake City NBC affiliate already refused to air the show (due to Playboy's general seediness, not the network's committment to feminism), and in an interview with Reuters, Steinem says she hopes viewers will refuse to watch the show too. She explains, "Clearly The Playboy Club is not going to be accurate. It was the tackiest place on earth. It was not glamorous at all."
TV viewers may be confused because the Playboy Club seemed pretty glamourous when Don Draper was there (though keep in mind that the visit resulted in a horrific, racially-motivated cane attack). Thankfully, Steinem has given feminists the go-ahead to keep loving Mad Men, even if the club's brief appearance on the program showcased sexy costumes with no mention of the requirement that Bunnies undergo internal exams and STD tests (a rule the clubs were forced to drop thanks to her expose). Steinem says Mad Men is "a net plus, because it shows the world of the early 1960s with some realism." However, she expects that The Playboy Club, "will be a net minus and I hope people boycott it. It's just not telling the truth about the era."
"It normalizes a passive dominant idea of gender. So it normalizes prostitution and male dominance...I just know that over the years, women have called me and told me horror stories of what they experienced at the Playboy Club and at the Playboy Mansion."
That doesn't sound all that empowering, but maybe Steinem just has her facts mixed up. She should be sure to watch Bra Burners, NBC's new 1970s historical drama about the ladies who got into pillow fights to protest society pressuring them to wear underwear.
NBC's 'The Playboy Club' Finds New Salt Lake City Affiliate [Hollywood Reporter]
Gloria Steinem Hopes For TV Boycott Of "Playboy Club" [Reuters]
Earlier: How The Playboy Club Gets It Wrong