TV Review: Hugh Hefner gets the cheesy docudrama treatment in American Playboy

The life of Hugh Hefner is not exactly uncharted territory for documentary filmmaking, as several feature-length explorations of the subject already exist. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that a fictionalized series based on Hefner and the rise of his Playboy empire could fill the Mad Men void in our lives (although we have the short-lived 2011 series The Playboy Club to suggest otherwise). An attempt at fusing those two approaches, the 10-part hybrid series American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story weaves archival footage, new interviews, and dramatic re-enactments into a shoddy tapestry.

The first clue that American Playboy won’t be a hard-hitting, warts-and-all account of Hefner’s life and times comes even before the Bondian opening credits reveal the series is co-produced by Alta Loma Entertainment, a wholly owned subsidiary of Playboy Enterprises. The first face we see is that of Cooper Hefner, chief creative officer …

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