Written by Caballero Oscuro
The Girls Next Door offers a tantalizing view behind the scenes at the Playboy Mansion, peeling back the veil of secrecy to expose the normalcy of Hugh Hefner’s magical land. After two previous seasons, there aren’t many secrets left to reveal, but the show and its participants have entered a comfy stage of true familiarity and family that gives this season an added dimension of warmth.
For the uninitiated, the “Girls” are Hef’s live-in girlfriend #1, Holly, as well as the two other ladies living in the Mansion, Bridget and Kendra. They’re all buxom blondes, but they’re vastly different in personality and somewhat different in age. Kendra is the young jock who thinks she’s “street,” Bridget is the older girly sweetheart who still views the world through rose-colored bunny glasses, and Holly is the middle one in age who’s angling for a permanent commitment from the world’s most famous bachelor. They’re each around five years apart in age, ranging from Kendra at 21 to Bridget at 33, which puts them just within Hef’s historic age range of interest. While all three are referred to as girlfriends, Holly is definitely the queen bee and the only one who is truly Hef’s girlfriend, so Kendra and Bridget really take the more realistic title of GirlfriendTM, a largely ceremonial position that would normally be subject to rotation anytime at Hef’s whim. Their success with this show has allowed all three to continue their reign at the mansion much longer than anyone anticipated, leading to close relationships between the three as well as Hef.
Hef is a strong presence on the show who is always felt even when he’s not seen. He sticks to the background for the most part, allowing his girls to take the lead on their show, but there’s no escaping his omnipresent aura in everything they do. At 81, the old geezer is still very spry and parties like a rockstar, but he’s also shown to be a highly loyal and sentimental man who genuinely cares for the well-being of his girls rather than just exploiting them. He’s still very involved in running his magazine and also takes a hands-on approach to fine-tuning the details of the many elaborate parties held at the mansion. There’s occasionally a twinge of creepiness watching the octogenarian cavorting with his young lasses, but when you consider that Hef is a true titan who used to hobnob with Marilyn Monroe you realize that these girls are probably fairly insignificant diversions in the grand scheme of things.
Each episode finds the girls participating in a different activity, ranging from setting up a horseback-riding outing for other Playmates, to taking a ski trip to Vail, CO, to traveling with Hef to Vegas for his 81st birthday celebration. Episodes that stay at the Mansion usually center around a themed party, such as their annual New Year’s Eve bash and Valentine’s Day soiree, with the thrust of the shows focusing on the girls picking and customizing their outfits for each event. It’s a pretty simple formula, but one that allows viewers to get a fairly accurate feel for true life at the Mansion as well as explore the thoughts and motivations of the girls. It’s also getting to be a bit of a repetitive formula, as some of the annual events seem virtually unchanged each year, such as Hef’s Casablanca night and his latest outing to his swanky flat at the Palms in Vegas, giving some episodes a distinct sense of déjà vu. However, at this stage in his life, Hef is an extreme creature of habit so it’s forgivable to allow the old man his simple pleasures.
This season finds the girls with some new motivations, with Kendra buying and working on an investment condo, Bridget pursuing a career in voiceover work, and Holly working behind the scenes on the magazine, assisting with photo shoots and working on selecting the shots to propose for Hef’s final consideration. Holly’s arc is the most interesting, as her new career seems like yet another calculated move to prove her worth to Hef in the hopes of convincing him to marry her. Unlike the first two seasons, she’s not portrayed to be quite as single-visioned in her quest to get that diamond ring, but her unwavering devotion to Hef and his empire continue to show her to be a very, very determined young lady.
The Season Three box set includes all 14 regular season episodes as well as a special hour-long retrospective episode. The episodes are spread across three DVDs packed in individual slim-line plastic cases housed in a sturdy slipcase. The girls offer commentary on all episodes and the DVD release continues to be the optimal way to watch the show since the episodes are completely uncensored. The Girls Next Door: Season Three is available on DVD on January 22nd.