Next Door [1994]

The Girls Next Door: Season Two offers 16 more episodes of Holly, Bridget, and Kendra's pranks and party planning as Hef's main girls at the Playboy Mansion. Just like with Season One, watching Season Two is like eating junk food, so sensational and silly are the three ladies commenting on their glamorous day-to-day activities. Though the novelty of the show has worn off, more appearances by Hugh Hefner and a gained understanding of the trio's dynamics--equally friendly and competitive--helps the show transcend utter banality. In fact, the show feels more like Dynasty, now an intricate combination of reality television and soap opera. More shown aggravations amongst the ladies, and more glimpses of Hef's love for this unfolding drama in his own home, make the show a fine example of American sensationalism. Two episodes are dedicated to Hef's 80th birthday extravangaza, making it the most significant story in the second season. Wonderful footage of previous Hefner birthdays and previous playmates frolicking nearly nude adds heft to Playboy's historical significance. It's astonishing to think that this icon has enjoyed such a lifestyle for half a decade, and truly amazing to see Hefner now, on television, touring Europe in "I See London, I See France," dancing in nightclubs, or hosting a slumber party in "Sleepwear Optional." The girls, too, have seemingly settled into their careers when prepping to host their own exercise shows in "Mutiny On the Booty," during which Kendra, the biggest ditz of the three, shines with her martial arts demonstrations. As tempting as it is to choose favorites among the ladies in Season Two, one begins to realize that it's their metaphorical ménage-a-trois that keeps the show sexy, and that's what it's all about. —Trinie Dalton

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