Criticize NBC’s “The Playboy Club” all you want, but Carol-Lynne is one fierce Mother Bunny, er, Bunny Mother. “The Scarlet Bunny” opened with Laura Benanti putting everyone “In the Mood” with her knockout performance of that tune.
Honestly, the show could have ended right after her song-and-dance. And by dance I mean making that Bunny outfit shimmy. Instead, Chad Hodge and Co. served up more Bunny Alice and Sean, the beardedly married Mattachine Society power couple; bartender Max and his OMG! guns in an (Italian) T; a Bunny pageant, and Carol-Lynne’s warning to Bunny Maureen:
“Apparently you're attracted to things that don't belong to you,” the resident Queen Bunny told Maureen—after she gave her the scarlet Bunny suit. “Remember when I told you bad things happen in Chicago? If you don't back off, you're going to find out how true that is.”
Skaa-WHEEL (That was the big ‘ol gay-gasm.)
Honestly, I can’t imagine any gay man or woman not watching this show—which airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on NBC, by the way. Anyway, since this recap is way late, I won’t waste any more time getting to it.
Like I said, Laura Benanti owns this show as Carol-Lynne. Whether she’s singing, dancing or bitch-slapping, she’s got my attention. I hope NBC releases a video of Benanti performing “In the Mood” on stage, start to finish, no cutaways. She killed it.
(By the way Mr. Hodge, I’m on staycation this week in Chicago. If you need someone tall and geeky as an extra, or even someone to just sit and watch Laura perform—I’m here for you!)
Back to the show: They did cut away (dammit) to show us that Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian) wants Carol-Lynne back and John Bianchi (Troy Garity) can’t get enough of Nick. But not for that reason—the show hasn’t gotten that gay, yet. Mobster John still wants Nick to help him find his missing mob boss father, who Nick dumped in the Chicago River after Maureen (Amber Heard) drilled him in the neck with her spiked heel in the series premiere.
Speaking of Maureen, she’s crapping bricks after seeing the nameplate for key holder “Clyde Hill” go up on the attendance wall. Clyde Hill was Daddy Bianchi’s alias at the club. She corrals Nick to discuss tell him that the two schmos must have found the key she dropped by the river and are in the house. Sidebar: Talk louder in the club about the guy you killed! And look guiltier! Nick and Maureen would make horrible spies, because their panicky asses are not subtle at all.
Maureen heads over to the two doofuses (doofusi?) with Clyde’s key and quietly suggests they give it to her—and get out. Then she takes down the “Clyde Hill” sign in the nick of time (pun intended; he’s be waylayed by Carol-Lynne). Mobster John sneaks up behind her for a chat. If that was flirting, Mobster John needs some advice from Nick. Then again, he might just think she killed his dad.
Oops, forgot to mention the set-up to the Bunny pageant. The gals are in their dressing room freaking out that Hef wants a Chicago Bunny to be on the cover of Playboy. (OMG they mentioned Playboy! PTC start writing more letters and emails to complain instead of not letting your kids watch TV at 9 p.m.!)
Maureen’s in; Brenda’s in (of course, remember that no one discriminates against those). Alice and Janie are not interested.
Alice is appalled by the whole idea, saying that, “Bunnies are Bunnies and playmates are playmates. Bunnies keep their clothes on.” Conservative lesbian in the 1960s? It could have happened.
Janie, on the other hand, is terrified of the idea. We learn why later when she yells at He-of-the-Sexy-Arms Bartender Max (Wes Ramsey—not a porn name), who has submitted her photos anyway. She’s already married, “to a really crazy guy who has subscription to Playboy!” Do you not love this show? Sidebar: Jenna Dewan Tatum (Janie) is gorgeous.
OK, so back to Chez Gay, where Sean (Sean Maher) and Alice (Leah Renee) are entertaining Sean’s visiting parents, who believe they are married and are doing that universal meddling parents thing: “So Alice, when you going to make me a grandma?”
Marvelous. This whole Alice-Sean-Mattachine Society subplot is wonderful. Props to Hodge, who could have just tossed these two in occasionally but instead is bringing them front-and-center. Before the night’s over, Sean has impressed Nick enough for him to (probably) hire Sean as his campaign manager. (Lotsa good stuff coming as far as that goes.) In another funny scene, Alice gets all hot-n-bothered taking photos of Maureen for her Playboy cover contest.
Another thing I love about the show is how Hodge weaves in these subtle moments that address a lot of the pre-premiere complaints about the show. For (kinda weak) example, many claimed that the show would whitewash over how the Bunnies were on their feet all the time in uncomfortable shoes. We see the Bunnies soaking their sore feet.
Also, some have said Bunnies never danced with keyholders. That became part of the new rules implemented by Carol-Lynne, as well as the proper way to Bunny Dip.
Carol-Lynne also gave the Bunnies a pep talk, telling Alice and the rest that being a Bunny is nothing to be ashamed of. Being a Bunny means being a “smart, independent girl focused not on what men want, but on what she wants,” she said.
To that end, we learned a lot about the gals during the Bunny Cover Girl pageant when the finalists spoke. It came down to Brenda, Janie, Maureen and two others we don't care about.
I take that back, one of those told the story of how her dad said she could never be a doctor. She became a Bunny to put herself through med school at Northwestern. (Take that, those who would say Bunnies are dumb!)
Brenda not only want to show us her boobs in Playboy, she wants to buy up some fancy real estate. Girl’s got divergent goals!
Then there’s Sweet Little Mo, who seems sad as can be in this episode. “I just want to be someone new, someone special,” she tells Faceless Hef. “My home life wasn't the best. I didn't think anyone would ever care about me. I always dreamed of finding some place I belonged. Family I guess. Well, here I am.”
Call me a sap; I got a little misty eyed during her speech. (Hope she wasn’t making all that up.)
Maureen gets the cover, of course, but she grabs Brenda’s box and gives her half the money that came with it. Sweet, right? Mo closes out the episode, too, with that damn key. She hides it in her Vanishing Cream. (Does she realize the cream won’t make it disappear.)
- Nick wants Mayor Richard J. Daley’s blessing to run for state’s attorney. He gives him a box of Margie’s Candies. Daley suggests he’ll need a better present than that. “Nothings free in Chicago, son.”
- Sean’s dad got his Playboy Club key from a guy named Abe Froman, who any fan of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” knows is the Sausage King of Chicago.
PEARLS FROM PEARL
Carol-Lynne gets all angsty when she realizes that Nick and Maureen did not mess around. She can’t decide whether to take him back or not. Says Pearl: “Ain’t nothing wrong with being wrong, unless you’re too proud to admit it.”