The Pitch: It's Like Mad Men With Skimpy Outfits

NBC has ordered pilot for a drama about Playboy bunnies in the '60s

Some form of that phrase must have come up in one of the meetings that led NBC to order a pilot for a drama about Playboy bunnies in the ’60s. It’s really not such a bad idea, though period pieces have not done well in recent years. I just find it to be a reminder that when networks follow trends, it’s not always the trend set by the shows that are the most successful or make the most money.

Mad Men is winning all the awards, so networks are more open to period-style pitches than they have been in a long time. You sometimes hear it said that network executives don’t want to hear about AMC or HBO shows as points of comparison, since most of those shows don’t get the kind of numbers a broadcast network needs. But executives are TV viewers just like the rest of us, and I suspect that they do respond well to pitches that remind them of shows they like. It also helps that Mad Men is a show that can be imitated on broadcast without worrying much about censorship: content-wise, most of what happens on Mad Men could pass muster with the FCC (there’s plenty that broadcast networks wouldn’t do anyway, but it’s due to timidity or advertiser pressure, not censorship per se), so it’s not like trying to imitate Boardwalk Empire, where you have to explain how you’re going to cut out the nudity.

As to what approach I’d like to see for this show if it gets picked up, that’s simple: it should be a bit like this. Even the showtune-style theme song could pass for something that was written in the ’60s.


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