NBC's Racy 'Playboy Club' Already Under Fire

Conservative groups are aggressively campaigning to pull the plug on the show -- calling it porn -- before it even premieres

The fall TV season hasn't even begun yet, and NBC is already dealing with its first controversy. One of its new shows, The Playboy Club (set to air Mondays at 10 p.m. ET), has caught the attention of anti-porn groups. They say that this provocative, 60's-era drama, which is set in a Chicago gentleman's club, isn't fit for primetime network TV.

Two groups, Pink Cross Foundation and Morality in Media have started online petitions to shut the show down. Dawn Hawkins, executive director of Morality in Media, takes issue specifically with reports of a three-way sex scene -- and more generally, with the Playboy brand being promoted at all. "We know now, years later, that pornography is very harmful to society," she said. "It leads to addiction in children and adults, increased sex trafficking violence against women -- and Playboy is really the root of all of this. We just don’t want to see it glamorized any further, which it will be if it’s aired on NBC.”

Lawyers for Morality in Media warn the show could run afoul of FCC's indecency regulations if it pushes the envelope too far. And that's not to mention the public resistance they're organizing.

"Every advertiser on The Playboy Club will be boycotted, every local affiliate of NBC will be bombarded by a very large segment of society that is sick and tired of those making money off the sexual exploitation of women," said the group's president, Patrick A. Truman. "The NBC brand, as well as Playboy will suffer great cost."

But let's hope that their efforts, if they have any effect, will simply serve to tone the show down. It would be a shame for The Playboy Club to be removed from the air altogether, based on only the pilot. For one thing, these preview clips demonstrate a quality script and good acting. Eddie Cibrian's character, Nick Dalton, a charming but flawed lawyer, has the compelling quality of Mad Men's Don Draper (Jon Hamm). And unlike, say, MTV's recently canceled Skins, this racy show is aimed at (and revolves around) adults, not teens.

Of course, all the attention may actually help NBC. TV viewers do love controversy -- especially one that involves sex. Just ask Anthony Wiener.

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