(Somewhat) behind the scenes of a famous brothel
The concept seems like such a natural winner that it's amazing it took so long to be made (and that it lasted such a short time on the air.) In an area of Nevada where prostitution is legal, there exists a legendary brothel run by Dennis Hof, where a man (or woman (or couple (or basketball team))) can go to enjoy the company of a talented young lady (or ladies (or quartet)) and empty out the bank account too. Though it's still the business of selling sex and hustling a guy desperate for some intimacy, it's conducted with some legitimacy, as Hof's right-hand woman, Madam Suzette, runs a tight ship, taking half their fees and keeping track of business.
You need solid leadership when your workforce is made up of a bunch of whores. The girls are a fascinating group, coming from a variety of backgrounds and mindsets, from down-to-earth nympho Isabella Soprano to porn veteran Sunset Thomas to cartoon sex-machine Air Force Amy. Their day-to-day lives are the focus of the series, as you get to hear their thoughts on their unique careers and their views on sex. You also get to follow the prostitutes on the job, which means there's graphic sex and nudity, though no penetration is shown (sorry, porno fans.)
Though the titillation provided by the hidden cameras in the girls' bedrooms will be the draw for most people interested in this series, getting to know the girls, some of whom have great personalities (like Isabella) and the chance to see what life is like in a whorehouse was much more of a selling point, as documentaries about people with non-traditional lifestyles tend to be pretty interesting. Thus, the series provides a solid introduction to the world of "girlfriend experiences" and "tickle parties," showing a wide variety of customers and focusing on their many kinks and interests, and the somewhat professional side of the business, as the girls learn new techniques from in-house instructor Alexis, and check out new tools they can use (though these segments seem like they were strictly for the cameras.)
Though I was hooked on the show when it was on HBO, now, it's less enthralling. The thing is, for shows like this to be really interesting, they need to be honest, and director Patti Kaplan, who also brought us "Real Sex" and "G String Divas," seems more interested in the glossy, glamorous side of the sex industry, and presenting an energetic, fun show, marked by the kitschy music and graphics that were a hallmark of "Real Sex." Obviously, to get cooperation from the Bunnyranch, there was likely an understanding that this wouldn't be a hard-edged expose, but only rarely do you get to see the darker side of the prostitute world, like two girls who can't make it in the business and a dust-up between two hookers that results in one of them leaving the 'Ranch. When the show does get close to something different, like a break-up between Hof and one of the girls, it gets little screentime, as there's always another freak to spotlight.
While the 11-episode first season of the show is still a fun time, despite the lack of bite, the far shorter second season runs just six episodes, and is missing the break-out stars of the earlier shows (like adorable Karla and Danielle.) Worse yet, the majority of the material is actually culled from the same shoots as the early episodes, so you see a lot of scenes you've already seen. They are basically alternate versions of previous shows, covering the same ideas, like the line-up when customers arrive, the instructional courses, and the various "jobs" the girls perform. The final episode, which looks at the series' superstars (who are mostly missing from the previous five), is simply a clip show, replaying footage of the girls from the series. It's really a waste of your time.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks on this series are as standard as it gets, presenting clean, clear dialogue and the show's signature music without any problems, but it's a straight down the middle delivery, without anything dynamic. It fits the content and sounds find.
The Bottom Line