August 26, 2019  (Web Review)

Swingtown: The First Season

Paramount, 4 discs, 547 min., not rated, DVD: $53.99

Reviewer rating: 1.5/4

Although the box art proclaims that this is the “first season,” it is actually the only season of this show that launched in the summer of 2008 as a network TV response to Mad Men, depicting the sexually liberated early 1970s. Molly Parker and Jack Davenport (a British actor sporting the worst American accent on TV) star as middle-class couple Susan and Bruce Miller, who move from a conservative Chicago neighborhood to what they discover is a swinging suburban hotbed of wife-swapping and key parties. Grant Show and Lana Parrilla play the neighbors who are eager to introduce the pair to the culture of free sex and inhibition-freeing drugs. While the Davenport adults jump right in, their children attempt to figure out their place in this culture, and their parents’ tightly-wound, socially conservative best friends from the old neighborhood are aghast at this permissive new attitude. Swingtown has an interesting premise, but unfortunately never delves into any of the deeper issues—feminism, Vietnam, Watergate—of the era. It lathers on the fashion—from clothes to haircuts to Show’s magnificent mustache—and kitschy décor, but feels more like a costume party than a period piece and overall plays like a soap opera without the juicy twists. While it may have some interest as a curiosity, it’s a disappointing attempt at social commentary. Compiling all 13 episodes, extras include episode commentaries, a “making-of” featurette, a segment on sex and morality in ‘70s America, deleted scenes, and a gag reel. Not recommended. (S. Axmaker)