Judge Ryan Keefer has an open mind. I mean had. He HAD an open mind. Before watching this DVD, there was some openness in the brain folds, but they're shut for good now.
Our reviews of The Girls Next Door: Season One (published August 9th, 2006), The Girls Next Door: Season Two (published May 9th, 2007), The Girls Next Door: Season Four (published March 23rd, 2009), The Girls Next Door: Season Five (published July 13th, 2009), and The Girls Next Door: Season Six (published July 19th, 2011) are also available.
"We're not just a blond chick, we're people now."
This season of The Girls Next Door is a continuation of guilty-pleasure viewing from the last two installments. The success of the E! reality show hinges on its ability to attract an audience that could care less about its reality and is instead watching with the incredulity that people actually live like this. It's kind of like watching MTV's Super Sweet 16 which I do, through no fault of my own. But I can't say any more. At some point my TiVo passed me a note that said, "I'm in charge now."
Facts of the Case
You remember that scene in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka where the woman is walking home with her cramps and someone accosts her, and she turns into the werewolf? Well, it was kind of like that at my house when I asked to get Girls Next Door to review, my wife grabbed it and didn't let go. So here are her thoughts on it.
Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson are Hugh Hefner's girlfriends and make up the girls of the "Girls Next Door." They live together in a Los Angeles landmark, the Playboy mansion. Cameras follow the girls around daily to see what they do, what they say, and how naked they get. For those of you that are interested in the show because it's Playboy, there is plenty of nudity for the "pleasure" part of the viewing equation.
According to Wikipedia, Holly, a natural brunette, moved into the mansion in August 2001 at the age of 21 and became Hef's #1 girlfriend six months later. She often refers to her 81-year old boyfriend as "puffin," or "puffin-boo," and I'm not sure I understand the background for that, so I'm just going to say that it's annoying. She may be Hef's #1 girlfriend, but she also wants to be a photo editor, and part of this season is her spending time in a sort of apprenticeship with the Playboy magazine staff.
When looking into Bridget's background, I was a bit surprised. She has a Masters degree in Communications and is technically married, although she and her husband are separated, and have been since she moved into the mansion in 2002. At 34, she's also a lot older than I expected. She always has an outfit for every kind of event and is actually quite creative. And again, part of this season is spent with her as she tries to put together some demo stuff for a career in voice-over.
Kendra met Hef in 2004 when she was only 19 and was offered the opportunity to move into the mansion shortly after their meeting. She's the sporty girl of the bunch, who likes cars, rap music, and things that are more tomboy-ish in nature. I was surprised to see on the DVD how bad her skin is with a lot of blemishes. In the episodes that focus on the girls talking about their desired careers, Kendra wants to invest her money in a condo, so I'm not really sure what kinds of career aspirations she has. I don't think she knows either.
There is the obvious temptation to make fun of a show like this, and the only reason I won't is that the girls of the Girls Next Door seem to be genuinely decent people. At some point during this third installment, either through deleted scenes or regular episodes, you see each of the girls cry. Yes, I know what you're thinking. Just because someone can cry doesn't make them a good person. No I have nothing to add, I just know what you're thinking. But just because I occasionally watch the show on TV and I think the girls are good people does not mean I would recommend it to others.
In this season, the girls take advantage of the benefit of being Playboy bunnies and Hef's girlfriends, allowing them to participate in a lot of activities, including horseback riding in the Hollywood Hills, throwing and attending amazing parties, snowboarding with Shaun White (and staying at the beautiful Vail Cascade Resort & Spa), and spending some time in Vegas at the Palms' Hugh Hefner Sky Villa (which, according to Kendra, is the most expensive suite in the world). In fact, in one episode, Kendra says, "we need a vacation." It made me laugh.
It is also apparent that Holly really does care about Hef and that he cares about her. But I'm a little unsure about whether it really is love that she feels, or if it's just how she pictures her life with him. She makes numerous comments in this season about wanting to marry Hef, to which he mostly jokes or changes the subject. As for the other girls' relationships with Hef, Bridget's appears to be in the form of caring about a nice old man who has given her a lot. I feel like she occasionally throws in comments about being "naughty" or other sexually-oriented responses just to play her part as a girlfriend. Kendra is much the same. I think she respects Hef for what he's made of his life, and appreciates him for pulling her out of her ordinary life. She is absolutely the worst though, as far as making comments in interviews that are seriously hilarious, though she probably doesn't mean for them to be. For example, after an episode where the girls go snowboarding and suffer several butt injuries, Kendra pulls this one out: "I have never felt so much pain in my ass before…Actually…Okay, never mind." Or in an interview after she purchases her condo: "My first investment was my boobs. My boobs, I feel like, got my condo. Thank you boobs!"
Bridget is my favorite, because she's so innocent and likeable. And for that reason and others discussed later, I can't recommend the show. I'm happy that the girls are happy, but I'm concerned that they're living the life now, only to be tossed out when they get too old—or lose their looks. In one of Season Three's fourteen episodes, the girls do an autograph signing in Vegas. Bridget is so surprised at how many people showed up, and explains that before, no one really knew who Hef's girlfriend(s) were, and so she says "We're not just a blond chick, we're people now."
One thing going for the DVD is that each episode includes a commentary by the three girls. The funny thing is that most of the things they say on the commentaries are the same things they say in the actual episodes, adding very little value to the show. However, there are some highlights. In "Snow Place Like Home," Holly reveals that she visited a psychic who told her that in a former life, Hef was her child. We also find out that Ron Jeremy wore a Santa suit later donned by one of the mansion staff to deliver charitable presents who said the suit stunk, which was unsurprising. Holly also mentions in "My Bare Lady" that she was getting an apartment "just in case." Which I take to mean in case Hef "let's her go." In "PMOY Not," Holly makes a comment about a former member of the Playboy team, she says "no, she's not dead, she's just pregnant," which I thought was hilarious.
On average, each episode has about two deleted scenes that don't add much to the individual episodes, although in the commentaries, the girls are disappointed that some of the stuff didn't end up in the final cut but are excited to know that much of those items are included as deleted scenes. A valuable extra is an hour-long piece titled "Bedtime Stories: The Best of the Girls Next Door," which was actually pretty funny. And for someone who hasn't seen the first two seasons, it was nice to see clips from older episodes. The saddest thing I saw on it was Bridget dressing up her dog. I think I actually saw the dog cry. Other highlights include Kendra's encounter with a wasp, and Holly bowling herself down the lane in the Palms' bowling alley. Lastly, a Season Three teaser completes the set.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This is hard to talk about, because I've already told you that while I occasionally watch the show, I don't recommend you do. Here's a good comment: The girls seem to be happy and thankful, they don't appear to be rude, and genuinely have good hearts. This show is great to watch if you don't think too much about the content. Is my nose growing?
Does watching a show for guilty-pleasure mean that your brain folds can't ask questions? Call it hypocritical, but I've got some questions.
My problem with The Girls Next Door: Season Three is that if you're going to market it as reality, show some realness. If there is a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship between the girls and Hef, shouldn't we see the occasional fight? What about sex? I'm not saying that I want to see an 80-year old get it on with someone nearly 60 years their junior, but that should be addressed at some point. What about money—do they get paid for being Hef's girlfriends? I mean, hell, polygamy makes more sense than these three relationships.
Lastly, each of these girls is in charge of their own lives and makes their own choices. But in my experience, a relationship means a give and take on both sides. Here, Hef calls all the shots. Which I take to mean that when he asks these women to move out, there might be a discussion, but ultimately, it's Hef's house and his rules.
Guilty. But Hef and the girls can redeem themselves if they can show a little more proof that they have a real relationship.
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Scales of Justice
• Commentary with Holly, Bridget, and Kendra on all episodes
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