I love summer. I love everything about it. I love the fireflies, the long days and the hot temps. I just love it. Another part of the summer I enjoy is seeing all the summer shows on television. Some of them are the same old comedies and crime dramas, but some of them are a little bit cheesy, a little more risky and just plain fun. I don't catch a lot of shows because I'm more of a reruns on DVD type of person, but there was one summer show I didn't miss.
It was the summer of '08 and one I would gladly forget if I could. It was the summer we lost my father. Yet despite that, one thing happened that I never forgot no matter how many summers have passed since. That was the show Swingtown.
If you're not familiar with this show, it was a period piece set in 1976, about a couple--the Miller's, who move into a new neighborhood and meet their neighbors, the Decker's, an awesome "It" couple, oh, who also happen to be swingers.
The group of friends I chatted with at the time were fascinated by this show. It was before Mad Men and it was on a regular network--CBS, so it had to be a bit censored. But, oh my, was it wonderful.
Unfortunately, the show didn't make it pass that summer. It only had one season and I'm not entirely sure why. I think I read that the ratings didn't support the amount of money it cost to produce this period show, so it went into the summer show graveyard. Yet I never forgot.
When it came to DVD I wanted to buy it, but instead it hung out in my Amazon cart for many years. For some reason I could never pull the trigger on it. Then three years ago, I quit smoking and my friend Suz sent me a present to encourage me. Swingtown on DVD! She knows me so well!
So fast forward to now, the summer of '14 and here I am having kind of a crappy summer. My second summer being unemployed isn't as hopeful as my first summer. In fact, the thought of applying for jobs wears me out and gets me down. I need a pick-me-up. I need to visit Swingtown!
Yesterday I pulled out the DVD's and by today I'd finished them. It's just that good!
Like I said, this is the story of Susan and Bruce Miller who move to a better neighborhood in a suburb near Chicago and meet their neighbors Tom and Trina Decker. Yet, they also have a hard time leaving behind their old neighbors Roger and Janet Thompson. Janet is kind of the 50's prototype wife at the beginning and Roger is the browbeaten husband. Of course all that changes in Swingtown!
Instead of typing it all up, I'll just copy some of the notes I took:
The first show has the Millers swinging with the Decker's. They don't mess around! Trina offers Susan a Quaalude and it goes from there...
The clothes are awesome! Since I was born in the 70's, I never wore any of the clothes, but my Barbies had hand-me-downs from the 70's and the clothes I saw on Trina and Susan were all familiar to me. Silky blouses tied at the waist and long, flowing dresses with no bra underneath. Of course!
Janet (the stuffy neighbor) made something called Rosy Perfection Salad and I can't get it out of mind.
The Decker's basement was where all the swinging occurred, but because it was on a regular network, you didn't really see much. Usually it was one dude with a bunch of women dry humping him. Everything had to be alluded to.
Grant Snow from the old Melrose Place (and the only one that counts) plays Tom Decker and OMG he's hot and awesome and has a porn 'stach! A good one too. Kind of like Tom Selleck. And he wears John Travolta 'Dance Fever' suits and tight swimming trunks and is always the one behind the bar mixing the drinks.
Roger Thompson is played by Josh Hopkins, who is also Grayson on one of my other favorite shows, Cougar Town (he likes shows with towns in it I guess), but I honestly don't see Grayson when I watch it. I just see Roger. Roger who seems really stuffy in his suits until one day you see him in a swimsuit and you are like, "Oh....my....God."
There are kids in this show too. They are annoying because they take away from the adults and the swimming and the basements. Then sometimes they disappear and you are like, "OMG... Who is watching the children?" But since I grew up in the 80's, where you pretty much did what you wanted during the summer, it's not surprising at all that this was happening in the 70's too.
There's also a 17 year old daughter having a fling with her 24 year old teacher, which wouldn't be so bad, but the girl who plays her is so freaking annoying and self righteous it's grows old fast and you just want to see more men in tight swimming trunks. Give me the trunks! Give me more porn 'stache!
Another child storyline was a girl who lived next door to the Miller's who has a drunk slutty mother, who doesn't give a crap about her daughter most of the time. The girl befriends the Miller's son and they have a bit of a summer romance, but again, it took me away from the basement for way too long! I did like seeing Roger and Janet's son drinking leftover liquor from the adults glasses. I used to do that! Not because I wanted to drink, but because I was thirsty. Who ever expected rum in a glass of soda at 8 in the morning? Ahh... The days when drinking was just what you did and smoking expected.
How happy was I see they even gave the Thompson's a wood paneled station wagon?? Hell to the yeah!
Fondue!! Yes, there was fondue. And ever since I watched it, I'm had a hankering for some melted cheese. I even priced fondue pots on Amazon.
I love this show and I'm so disappointed they cancelled, I feel like a Firefly fan, except there are no 'con's for short-lived sex-themed shows on a major network. Well, maybe there is, but I doubt I'll go to one. How freaky would that be??
Everything about the show felt realistic. I was never pulled out of the show thinking they got something wrong. They even used rotary phones! When Roger is unemployed and Janet gets a job, there's even an ass-grabbing boss. That's the 70's! Man, I wish I had a job...even an ass grabbing one.
Sometimes I think this show would've been better on a higher channel or maybe AMC, but then I think it might've got too gritty and too realistic. I watched the first season of Mad Men and even though I liked it and I loved the realism, it was too real. I like my swinging sugar coated!
Swingtown takes you back without actually going back. It asks a lot of important questions like: "Is it cheating when you swing?"
"Is it ok to sleep with other people when your spouse is away?"
"Is swinging the gateway drug to infidelity?"
"Can I get my hair to feather like that?"
"How do you make pigs in a pickle?" Janet made them and they sounded awesome!
"Would my husband look good in a porn 'stache?"
"Where did all the fondue pots from the 70's go?"
These are all important questions that come up while watching this show. Oh and I had to let my friend Suz know I was taking another visit to the basement. After all, she was the one who gave me the key (there is an actual key party in the finale!). Sadly, she got the title wrong so she had to be punished burping Tupperware at Janet's party! I guess it's starting to fade a little for all of us...
The finale left us with all kinds of cliffhangers and sadly we will never know what happens next.
Like a summer romance, it was fun, but way too short. If you ever find the DVD's or see this show anywhere, I recommend you watch!
Embrace the basement. It may lead to the best summer of your life!