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Category: Art and Entertainment, Feminism, Media, Media Monitoring

Women's Media Center to NBC: "You Can't Lie to Women!"

| October 24, 2011

The Women's Media Center recently sent the letter below to Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, to follow up on the cancellation of the inaccurate and sexist NBC show "The Playboy Club."

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Robert Greenblatt
Chairman, NBC Entertainment
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10020

Re: Women's Media Center says “YOU CANT LIE TO WOMEN!”

Dear Mr. Greenblatt,

“That NBC’s Playboy Club TV series set a record for fast failure proves that you can’t lie to women about what was good for us in the past and what wasn’t. AMC’s Mad Men tries to tell the truth, but NBC’s Playboy Club was history according to Hefner.” - Gloria Steinem, co-founder of the Women's Media Center.

As the Women’s Media Center and Gloria Steinem predicted, Playboy Club was canceled because today’s audiences want to be told the truth: “I expect that ‘Playboy Club’ will be a net minus… It’s just not telling the truth about the era.”

Executive Producer Chad Hodge told TV reporters that the program was "all about empowering these women to be whatever they want to be.” Lead actress Amber Heard said “It's about women who were being independent…It was their chance to live their own life, to do whatever they wanted on their own terms."

While only three episodes aired, the show’s relentless sloganeering of the benefits of Playboy for women was condescending. Characters repeatedly delivered carefully crafted talking points like “the Playboy Club empowers women” and “a Playboy Bunny is focused on what she wants, not what men want.” And then there was the appalling depiction of Gloria Steinem’s real life under-cover expose, “I was a Playboy Bunny”, re-imagined to make the “fictional reporter” into a conniving schemer who printed lies and failed to see the Playboy Club’s benefit for women. To suggest that the exploitation of women that actually occurred at the real Playboy Clubs was in any way related to women’s empowerment is not factual and, indeed, insulting.

Women represent 51% of the population and 86% of purchasing power. If you want them in the NBC audience, you can’t rewrite history.

Today’s audiences, male and female, want complex, truthful characters that have depth, sophistication and historical accuracy. The fact that NBC’s Playboy Club did not accurately portray the plight of women and minorities greatly contributed to its downfall. Who did you think was watching on Monday night opposite Monday Night Football?

The Women's Media Center is a network of journalists and media experts. We have valuable resources that are available to you and your executives to help you better understand contemporary television audiences. In the future, we hope you will call on us, and our network of experts for assistance when making programming decisions.


Julie Burton
President, Women’s Media Center