I remember seeing ads for Swingtown last summer and thinking “How is this going to succeed on CBS?” The show is about three couples in the mid 70s (the summer of 1976 to be precise, just like Dazed and Confused) who are all dealing with various relationship issues, most of which revolve around the swinging couple who open their eyes to all kinds of other worlds. It was on NetBox, but has since been taken down, but is still worth checking out.
But even I wasn’t convinced by the first episode. I couldn’t help but think that That 70s Show did a couple episodes like this and they was hilarious (Kitty and Red get invited to Bob and Midge’s naked party, there’s also one with a key party I think). By the end of the 13 episode run, though, it had quickly become a high quality show, one with characters I was really interested in and would like to have had another season or two to get to know.
And the biggest reason is the adult cast (the kids aren’t the main focus and tend towards annoying, but I do appreciate that the creators weren’t solely focused on the grown-ups, something that would have surely gotten more interesting in the next season). You’ve got three couples who are the focus of the show. Susan and Bruce Miller have the spotlight on them most of the time because they’re the white collar family moving from one neighborhood to another. Their good friends from their previous neighborhood, Roger and Janet, represent the uber-straight laced folks (mostly Janet, to be honest) and Tom and Trina, the new neighbors, who also happen to be free wheeling swingers, bring the trinity to a close. As our heroes, Susan and Bruce are the ones who are experiencing new things in life thanks to Tom and Trina in the swinging 70s, all the while trying to see how their old lives with Roger and Bruce still fit and how they fit with each other.
In my opinion, the fulcrum which balanced the show were Trina and Tom. See, they could have easily come off as super creepy, kinky weirdoes, but they play their roles so honestly, that you just can’t dislike them, even uptight Janet starts to like them. Tom, played by Grant Show, was my personal favorite. He’s got this rad, comforting voice that shatters the 70s porn star look he’s got going on with his big hair and mustache, and makes you see the humanity behind him.
And, for a show that only lasted 13 episodes, a LOT was going on. I read a quote on Wiki from one of the creators where he said that he thought the show was really well wrapped up, but I gotta disagree. They knew the show might not be making it to a second season, but I do wish a few more things would have been cleaned up, though, that’s obviously not how life works. So, if you dig shows like That 70s Show or Freaks & Geeks or just well crafted drama that takes a look at the sexual revolution from the perspective of suburban Chicagoans, then this is the show for you. Highly recommended.