The Parents Television Council Takes on NBC's The Playboy Club

By Seth Abramovitch

Jul 27, 2011

The Parents Television Council—“Because Our Children Are Watching,” goes its creepy tagline—is the insufferable TV watchdog group behind the record FCC fines lobbied against the major networks in recent years. Last summer, PTC members poured most of their energy into vociferous protests of the sitcom title $#*! My Dad Says, swearing they “wouldn’t rest” until CBS changed the name; the network didn’t budge. I presume they eventually got a little bit of rest, since $#*! My Dad Says was canceled. Which should give them plenty of energy for their new, stupid, puritanical campaign: Banning NBC’s The Playboy Club entirely.

One Mormon Church-owned station in Utah has already chosen to do so. But the PTC wants assurances that no minor in America will ever lay eyes on the shocking sight of a woman in a satin swimsuit outfit and bunny ears. Because god knows, that is just the most shocking thing ever! Nothing worse than that is available to today's kids with a few clicks of a mouse on the internet. No sir. That Hugh Hefner. Always pushing the envelope.

"Putting a veneer of sophistication on an industry that exploits women and destroys families is not laudable, it is disgraceful," PTC president and noted censorship laureate Tim Winter wrote in a letter sent out to individual NBC affiliates. "In what manner does the airing of such material reconcile with your public interest obligations as a broadcast licensee?"

He even goes so far as to quote the founder of something called “the Pink Cross Foundation”—basically a halfway house for former porn stars—which says, "NBC is breaking the law with this show. They're not meeting FCC standards." The letter goes on to threaten that affiliates will be fined by the FCC if they broadcast the show.

I’ll say this for the campaign: NBC does seem like the wrong home for a show about the original Chicago Playboy Club, especially if the network wants to air an accurate depiction of what went down at Hef’s all-night Mansion parties. But the PTC is sorely mistaken if it thinks this is going to do anything besides create more anticipatory buzz for the series. The climate has changed significantly from the one of five years ago, when CBS could be fined $3.6 million for airing what was deemed to be a “teen sex orgy” on Without a Trace.

What do you think? Is The Playboy Club too risque for network TV? Is it demeaning to women? Does American culture tolerate violence far more than we tolerate sex?

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  • BettyTownsen Aug 08, 2011

    I somewhat understand their concern, but what about all the other awful tv shows (and movies) that our kids are watching that are on the "dark" side about vampires and werewolves???!!! Just watched The Teen Choice Awards, and almost all the awards were for vampire-themed movies and shows. Just saying there are a lot worse shows on tv, so why pick on just one???!!!

  • jaynebosco Jul 31, 2011

    A better question would be then does a show like Mad Men demean women? Of course it does, but so do shows like Big Bang Theory by portraying Penny as an blonde air-head. They should also get the FCC to fine a show like Bones because it shows graphic forensics.

    Definitely will watch the show to see what all the fuss is about and highly doubt NBC is going to pull the show because a right-wing group wants the show pulled.

  • lostcause78 Jul 30, 2011

    Just one thing to comment here...

    "Does American culture tolerate violence far more than we tolerate sex?"

    You really have to ask that question? Really?

  • Grumpyclown Jul 29, 2011

    I think a list of the shows that the PTC frown upon would probably be half decent viewing and get good ratings. Cant wait to see me some bunnies!!

  • zeddyp Jul 29, 2011

    Why dont these "Parents" spend less time policing what should be on television and more time with their kids...its hilarious that time and time again they start a losing fight against a show/network...which in turn ends up mocking them in glorious fashion (See South Park for my personal favorite) in the end if you dont want your kids watching these shows..then dont let them watch you have no right to decide for other parents children

  • chas031 Jul 29, 2011

    I'm not knocking on any doors demanding that they watch any show on television. So, stay the HELL out of MY living room!!!

  • dariim Jul 29, 2011

    This comment has been removed.

  • LeePierce Aug 11, 2011


  • Jimmyboyt Jul 29, 2011

    oh FCC you so literally, fucking crazy...oh oops, i mean insurmountably crazy

  • pcsjunior002 Jul 28, 2011

    I think that, given the nature of these groups, they have no choice but to oppose this, much in the same way that the second season of "Everwood" (??!?!) was voted the most irresponsible TV show by the PTC because of its portrayal of s*x without consequences. Let's ignore the fact that Ephram ended up getting Madison pregnant, those don't qualify as consequences. But the show did a great job of promoting the practice of safe s*x as well as giving a reasonable amount of air time to the religious and social ramifications of premarital relations and the influence of age and circumstance. That being said, if you don't want to watch it, turn off the TV, if you don't want your kids to see it, don't let them. I have no problems with NBC airing this other than the fact that it likely won't be as good as it could be at HBO or Showtime given that the very substance of the material that would make this an authentic show is the same stuff that cannot be shown because it is network TV and thus

  • Writerpatrick Jul 28, 2011

    It's way too early to start protesting the show. It hasn't even aired yet. They're blowing their argument by making a fuss so early. They've just got themselves worked up about what the show could be and not what it will be. By the time the show does air they won't have any respect left for any real objectionable material. And considering that it's on network TV and not cable, it's probably going to be a lot tamer than many of the other shows out there.

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