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

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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