Support Our Work File an FCC Complaint Movie Reviews Join Us Family Guide to Primetime Television Home
Parents Television Council - Because Our Children Are Watching


1%-5% of your purchase will help support the PTC.

TV Trends

Brought to you by the Parents Television Council

Swingtown: CBS Celebrates Sex and Drugs



"We're ready to live or die by our double-edged sex sword.” -- Swingtown executive producer Mike Kelley (Entertainment Weekly, June 6, 2008)


Swingtown, CBS’ new series glamorizing drug use, sex orgies and “open marriage,” premiered Thursday, June 5th. From dozens of TV commercials with the tagline "It's 10 o’clock. Do you know where your parents are?" to signs on buses reading “Where do you GET OFF?”, the program’s rancid reputation preceded it; and the program’s first episode wasted no time living down to its hype.


In Swingtown’s opening scene, lead character Tom appeared to be receiving oral sex from a stewardess, with the woman’s head shown near his lap as he moans. Soon after, another stewardess worried that “your wife will kill me,” Tom smirked, “My wife is going to love you.” Immediately thereafter, Tom was shown in bed with both the stewardess and his wife. When wife Trina stepped out of bed, she told Tom and the stewardess to "carry on." Tom was shown on top of the stewardess, with her legs up around his waist as Tom moved up and down on top of her. After taking the stewardess home, Tom and Trina discussed their sexual encounter with her. Both agreed that they enjoyed having sex with the stewardess, but Trina asked if they could confine themselves to their own age bracket in the future.


The show’s obsession with sex continued throughout the episode. Tom and Trina welcomed new arrivals to the neighborhood Susan and Bruce by inviting them to join a foursome. Trina described the delights of group sex to Susan, stating that having sex with someone other than one’s spouse wasn't cheating – but that it brings marriage to a whole new level. She also claimed that swinging was the best thing she and her husband ever did – “Not to mention the incredible sex… Honestly, opening our relationship was the best thing that ever happened to me and Tom.”  To Hollywood’s writers, apparently nothing is more important than sex…no matter how many people one has to betray to find it. 

This was revealed in the program’s pièce de résistance, when another character, Janet, walked in on an orgy in Tom and Trina's basement. Panting and moaning accompanied the sight of half-naked men and women writhing about, as one man urged Janet to join in.


The episode also revealed its makers’ attitudes toward the proper attitude of teenagers toward their parents…and, of course, sex. At one point Susan tried to warn her teenage daughter, Laurie about the older boy she dates. Laurie told her mother that she would decide when to have sex with her boyfriend, sneering that she was older “than you were when Dad knocked you up.  Don't worry, I'm smarter than that." Later, Laurie’s older boyfriend told her, "I know enough to get into your pants every night." In response Laurie stripped off her shirt and shorts, and ran into a lake wearing only her panties. 


Naturally, the episode ended with Tom, Trina, Susan and Bruce caressing and implicitly going to bed together. The program also contained scenes of people rolling a marijuana joint and taking cocaine and Quaaludes. With its depictions of sex orgies, casual drug use, and teens mouthing off to their parents, it is apparent that the show’s writers don’t have a clue what typical family life was like in the 1970s.


TV’s critics, once again demonstrating that they march in mental lockstep with the entertainment industry and one another, predictably fawned over the perverse program:


“[Swingtown is] an intricate serial whose characters grapple with issues of identity, fidelity, morality, and love. It's also a nostalgic nod to summer 1976…Picture a foursome involving The Wonder Years, Boogie Nights, The Ice Storm, and Dazed and Confused.” – TV critic Dan Snierson (Entertainment Weekly, June 6, 2008)


“A nostalgic look at shag — and shagging — in open marriages… Swingtown is first and foremost a soap, but it's an optimistic one, more Wonder Years than The Ice Storm.” – TV critic Gary Levin (USA Today, June 3, 2008)


“[Swingtown] achieves the kind of intimacy and even eroticism that is common on HBO, but still fairly rare on broadcast networks… [it’s] a bold, retro step for CBS to attempt this kind of show.” – TV critic Tom Shales (Washington Post, June 5, 2008)


And, just as the nation’s so-called critics enthusiastically endorsed CBS’ “courage” in glorifying wife-swapping and drug-fueled orgies, so too did CBS’ top management and the series’ producers consider themselves to be taking a bold stand in favor of positive storytelling – though they seemed to disagree among themselves as to how responsible the network’s actions actually are:


“We're certainly pushing the envelope, but in a very responsible way.” – CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler (Entertainment Weekly, June 6, 2008)


“It's about sexual freedom, but because it's set in the '70s, it's not about sexual responsibility…We don't want to punish people with TV morality.” -- Carol Barbee, executive producer of Swingtown (Advertising Age, September 17, 2007)


Clearly, showing spouses being faithful to one another and teenagers who do not smoke pot or have promiscuous sex are anathema to the entertainment industry’s top executives and so-called “creative” personnel. In the eyes of Hollywood’s elite, the misery caused by drug orgies, infidelity and broken homes pales before the prospect of “punishing” people with “morality.”


TV Trends: This column was compiled from reports by the Parents Television Council’s Analysis staff.


Click Here to Comment on this Column

The Parents Television Council - www.parentstv.org


TV Trends Archive





JOIN US ON:          .

Parents Television Council, www.parentstv.org, PTC, Clean Up TV Now, Because our children are watching, The nation's most influential advocacy organization, Protecting children against sex, violence and profanity in entertainment, Parents Television Council Seal of Approval, and Family Guide to Prime Time Television are trademarks of the Parents Television Council.