Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Created by Mike Kelley (Big Love, Rome) and produced by Robert Del Valle and Alan Poul (Six Feet Under), Swingtown is a dramatized--and highly fanciful--overview of the moral, social and political upheavals of the pre-PC, pre-AIDS 1970s. The series began on the eve of the July 4, 1976, Bicentennial, as Bruce and Susan Miller (Jack Davenport, Molly Parker), a happily married couple with two lovely children (Aaron Howles, Shana Collins), move into an upscale Chicago lakefront suburb. Almost immediately the Millers find themselves at a party (or more accurately, an orgy) at the home of their new neighbors, Tom and Trina Decker (Grant Show, Lana Parrilla). A pair of Quaalude-dropping swingers, the Deckers are firm subscribers to the Open Marriage Policy--and throughout this and subsequent episode, Tom and Trina do their best to turn the wide-eyed Millers to their hedonistic way of thinking. In stark contrast to Bruce and Susan's new friends are a pair of old ones from their former neighborhood, the prudishly conservative Robert and Janet Thompson (Josh Hopkins, Miriam Shor). Less an accurate portrayal than a gaudy pastiche of the 1970s, the series was filled to overflowing with bad hair styles, leisure suits, mood rings, pet rocks, shag carpets, clips from TV game shows like $10,000 Pyramid and wall-to-wall period music from the likes of Captain and Tennille, David Bowie, Chicago and Seals and Croft. And since this was on "over-the-air" TV rather than cable, the sexual hijinks and excessive drug use were merely hinted at rather than overtly stated. Even so, the CBS debut of Swingtown on June 5, 2008, prompted Brent Bozell of the Parents Television Council to beg viewers not to watch the show, accusing the network of ignoring "common sense broadcast decency standards"--which of course merely served to increase the series' ratings.