Swingtown

 
(i)

 

Sex-themed '70s-set drama isn't meant for kids.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Morality is murky in the world of the show, and most of the main characters are flawed. A married couple decides to spice up their relationship by sleeping with the neighbors, a teenage girl flirts with her high school teacher, and so on.

Violence

In one scene, a teenage girl punches a boy, causing him to bleed.

Sex

Sex is a major theme of the show. Characters swap partners, teens flirt with adults, and more. That said, while viewers will see flashes of simulated sex, sexually charged kissing, and a teenage girl (from behind) wearing nothing but her underwear, they won't see sensitive body parts.

Language

In one scene, a girl calls a boy a "faggot." But, in general, it's tamer than many other primetime shows. "Heck" is often used instead of "hell," for example.

Consumerism

Products (like Tab soda) are occasionally plugged for nostalgia's sake.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink and use drugs of all sorts, including pot, cocaine, and Qualudes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this show is based on the concept of "swinging" in the 1970s -- the idea of two married people having an open relationship in which they share sexual partners. But while sex is a major theme of the series, it manages to keep the actual sexiness level to a dull roar. Titillating activities are implied but never shown in graphic detail, and the language is surprisingly clean. Still, you can expect to see characters drinking and using illegal drugs like marijuana, prescription pills, and cocaine. Proceed with caution when watching with teens.

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What's the story?

When Bruce and Susan Miller (Jack Davenport and Molly Parker) leave their old neighborhood behind for swankier digs in an affluent Chicago suburb, they move farther away from their old friends Roger and Janet Thomspon (Josh Hopkins and Miriam Shor) and closer to their sexually liberated new neighbors, Tom and Trina Decker (Grant Show and Lana Parrilla), who invite Bruce and Susan into their "open marriage." While the Millers are exploring their sexuality, their teenage children (Shanna Collins and Aaron Howles) are also testing boundaries when it comes to sex and drugs -- albeit in slightly less-shocking ways.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

If Boogie Nights and That '70s Show had a love child, it might look a lot like SWINGTOWN, a drama built around a downright cheeky topic that somehow manages to remain fairly tame when it comes to graphic sexual content. Although the adult characters are the show's main focus, Swingtown also includes significant teen storylines. But whether parents will feel comfortable watching a show about swingers with their kids is up to them.

Of course, the series would be a completely different animal if it were airing on pay cable (which was the producers' original plan), where nudity and language are permissible, if not encouraged. But the fact that Swingtown embraces the limitations imposed by network censors is part of what makes it so intriguing. But can a show like this win a loyal following without the aid of bare breasts and buttocks? That remains to be seen.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether the 1970s are accurately reflected here. Which historical events helped shape the era's social mores? How was being a teen in the '70s different than being a teen today? Did parents relate to their kids any differently? Was the topic of sex more or less taboo than it is now? Parents: Share your own experiences and impressions of the era.

TV details

Cast:Grant Show, Jack Davenport, Molly Parker
Network:CBS
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-14

This review of Swingtown was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byBorn2Bgood April 9, 2008
 

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