TV | Inside TV

NBC cancels controversial 'Playboy Club'

The Playboy Club

UPDATED: NBC’s biggest primetime gamble just became the first cancelled show of the season: The Playboy Club has been pulled from the network’s schedule.

The move is no surprise and, indeed, was expected months before the show premiered. The industry had low expectations for the 1960s set drama, which attempted to replicate a retro Mad Men vibe but for a wide audience and on a network with plenty of content restrictions.

Playboy Club premiered to low ratings and then dropped for each of its three telecasts, with last night hitting only 3.4 million viewers and a 1.2 rating in the adult demo. And sharp-eyed Playboy Club viewers got a hint last night something might have been up last night when NBC didn’t air a promo for a fourth episode. Despite having relatively tame content, the show wasn’t helped by conservative group the Parents Television Council vehemently protesting the show. The PTC released a statement saying they were pleased with the cancellation:  

“Bringing The Playboy Club to broadcast television was a poor programming decision from the start. We’re pleased that NBC will no longer be airing a program so inherently linked to a pornographic brand that denigrates and sexualizes women … we hope other broadcasters heed the important lessons of this programming debacle.”

NBC will fill the Monday night slot with repeats of new police drama Prime Suspect, which likewise needs some assistance in the Nielsen ratings. There are no plans to run off remaining Playboy Club episodes in another time period.

The move comes as NBC announced full-season pick-ups for new comedies Whitney and Up All Night, with one comedy’s fate yet to be announced – Free Agents, whose most recent number was below Playboy Club. With Free Agents scheduled to air tomorrow night, NBC likely wants to wait for the new episode to air before revealing any plans about its fate.

UPDATE: The Playboy Club: What went wrong? Hugh Hefner and EW weigh in…

UPDATED: Fall TV death watch: Survival status of the new shows

Originally posted October 4 2011 — 12:58 PM EDT

More from Our Partners