Here comes the neighborhood

Hugh's girls
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TRASH TV This review of E!'s The Girls Next Door started with a vision of me à la Gloria Steinem for her 1963 Bunny Club exposé, only I was doing my research sitting on my boyfriend's couch and eating Pirate's Booty, sans notebook. I grew up in an überfeminist house (No Three's Company!), spent a semester writing a paper on the sexism in Pretty Woman, and went to a once-all-women's college that had an unwritten rule about using womyn in all campus postings. So I was mentally going to note The Girls Next Door's sexism, infantilism, and misplaced values. Then came the eye-popping bobble-head opening and the catchy "Come on, come on to myyyyy house" theme song promising candy — and candy I got in the form of bottle blonds Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson, and Bridget Marquardt (Bridg, to me).

The girls of Hugh Hefner's reality TV series weren't the dumb bimbos I'd envisioned — OK, Kendra didn't know polygamy is illegal in this country and deemed Olive Garden the best. They have career aspirations: Babies! Broadcast journalism! Playmate of the Year! Who couldn't relate to jealous Holly (Hef's official number one girlfriend) when his ex Barbi Benton sashays into the mansion and declares, "Hef still has my bust!" to her bronze likeness? Who wouldn't ooze with sympathy when brainy Bridg has to miss the nude shower shoot because her mean old prof refuses to postpone her semester final? And she studied!

It took only an episode for me to realize I wanted to leave behind my hardworking p.c. life and monogamous relationship and live in the Playboy Mansion. I want to order fried chicken and ice cream from the butler; watch movies with my two BFFs and boyfriend, all snuggled in a California King; and slip and slide down the mansion lawns in a red, white, and blue bikini. I want a murder-mystery birthday party and girls who watch my back when the psychic who claimed to connect with the spirit I saw in my bedroom turns out to be a fraud. I want backyard barbecues and luaus and as many puppies as my heart desires. Puffin — as Holly affectionately calls Hef — hasn't called yet, but the good news is that with such episodes as "Mutiny on the Booty," "Clue-less," and "Eighty is the New Forty" under my belt, that doctoral thesis is practically writing itself! (Anna Mantzaris)

For The Girls Next Door dates and times visit www.eonline.com/on/shows/girlsnextdoor.