NBC presented its new fall drama The Playboy Club to the Television Critics Association with a controversial reaction. The producers found themselves found themselves defending the show, but it was star Amber Heard who best articulated the empowering position of playing a bunny of Hugh Hefner’s ‘60s clubs. She plays Maureen, an ambitious up and coming bunny who will show the viewers what the clubs offered women of 1961. Heard learned from former bunnies themselves.

“There are entrepreneurs,” Heard said. “They’ve talked to us about their experience. I’ve yet to meet an ex-bunny who’s disgruntled about their experience. I haven’t talked to them. On the other hand, I’ve talked to many who look back fondly on those experiences, are thankful for the money [they were able to earn.]”

The show will also deal with an African-American bunny and a closeted bunny, because those were the issues of the era. “The backdrop of the ‘60s and the club is going to be important to our story because everything was about to happen,” Heard continued. “This was right before the bubble burst. It’s pre Stonewall in relation to there being out lesbians, pre-women’s lib, pre civil rights, right on the cusp of where everything started to blow over. That’s going to lend itself well to our piece.”

First and foremost, The Playboy Club is a musical drama full of sexy costumes and fun song and dance numbers. Heard thinks these female characters are empowered for being at the forefront. 

“In a puritanical way, we look at things that involve sexuality that somehow the woman must be compromised,” she said. “It’s just as chauvinistic to deny a woman her sexuality. It comes down to choices and if they’re making a choice, they’re not being exploited.”

The Playboy Club premieres this fall on NBC.