THE SEX FILES: Not On My TV You Don’t!
NBC’s latest prime-time offering, The Playboy Club became the first cancelled show of the season. Though the cancellation came as no surprise, the show was swirling in controversy even before it aired. The new network offering was stopped only after 3 airings! Network content restrictions might have really kept the show from flourishing but our old friends the Parents Television Council vehemently protested the show, saying about the cancellation: “We’re pleased that NBC will no longer be airing a program so inherently linked to a pornographic brand that denigrates and sexualizes women…we hope other broadcasters heed the important lessons of this programming debacle.” And none other than zealot feminist Gloria Steinem told Reuters in August that she hoped viewers would boycott the show; Miss Steinem worked at our own city’s Playboy Club in the 60’s, calling the clubs “the tackiest place on earth.”
Of course whether or not it was the PTC, Steinman or the seven advertisers who dropped their commercials from the shows’ 2nd episode that caused The Playboy Club’s end or perhaps just the fact that people weren’t tuning in (reportedly the 10pm show premiered to low ratings and then they dropped for each of its subsequent airings), nobody knows. What I saw of it, it was an expansive program, with lots of characters, labyrinthine plot details and a look that really was just too much Mad Men without a smoking hottie like Christina Hendricks or a hunky Jon Hamm on board.
With people used to the gloves-off viewing of shows on AMC, FX and of course HBO and Showtime, it’s harder and harder for network T.V. to present anything ‘edgy’. A ‘sexy’ show like The Playboy Club was bound to fail (it only makes me wonder why Hef even gave it a shot) though the bunny costumes looked authentic, as did the cars, the music was of the period-the entire ‘vibe’ of the show was cool and accurate-but beyond the bouncing cleavage, how much behind-the-scenes naughtiness were we ever going to get on NBC?
Sure, shows like NYPD Blue pushed network limits with its copious amounts of bared booty, as Steven Bochco, Blue’s producer said: “The one thing you learn over the years with broadcast standards is there’s no such thing as broadcast standards. The standard is anything you can get them to let you do.” and HBO has Real Sex and we hear a whole bunch more dirty words on shows like Breaking Bad and Men Of A Certain Age but all commercial TV, especially network TV is made and played for the widest possible audience so advertisers can sell their products.
In the end, if we want to view sex we can without subscribing to HBO. We can all certainly download enough porn off the net to satisfy even the horniest among us and just flip on YouTube if we want to watch a sexy music video.