Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

“Sex” sold, but will “Swingtown”? Reviews are in.

June 6, 2008

sex.jpgThat old advertising axiom, “sex sells,” certainly held true for the film “Sex and the City,” which debuted at No. 1 in U.S. movie theaters last weekend with $56 million in ticket sales and has since added about another $12 million.

But a new “sex sells” question mark will be raised Thursday night when the CBS broadcast network debuts ”Swingtown,” about suburban sexual adventurism in the 1970s, complete with orgies, drug use and a touch of nostalgia.

The show has caused speculation over whether a broadcast network can truly do justice to the idea of a lifestyle with multiple sex partners because broadcasters face far greater restrictions than cable networks over the amount of sexual and other adult content in programs.

So far, a few critics are weighing in and several have expressed doubt.

The New York Times said: “Just because an era is amusingly kitsch does not mean it is ripe for dramatic exploration.” The paper noted that cable TV show “Mad Men,” a similar sort of program set in the 1960s that has been a hit with critics, ”plays with all the familiar cues of the period — the music, clothes and raffish ambiance — to frame a mystery that holds viewers’ attention.” “Swingtown,” it said, “has ’70s mystique, but not much mystery.”

The Boston Globe writes that “the older-skewing CBS is almost as far as you can get from HBO … And so while “Swingtown” is racy by network standards, and includes not just sexual situations but all kinds of drug use, it still doesn’t have the freedom to get into the nitty-gritty of a subject that is nothing if not nitty-gritty.”

“For all the industry chatter, the new CBS drama might as well be called ‘That ’70s Sex Show,’” the Los Angeles Times wrote in its review. “A network daring to tread in the R-rated territory previously left to the cable stations — imagine!”

USA Today says: “The show itself, sad to say, is not done well enough to work. But it’s not dull, and it’s worth watching if only to try to figure out what CBS could have been thinking.”

But critics are not the final word; audiences are. Tonight at 10 p.m. est, CBS will begin to find out if it’s risky experiment in the world of swinging 1970s sex will, in fact, sell on network TV in the 2000s.  


I dont care what those stuffy newspapers say, I loved Swinqtown! Very fresh, just what we needed. I never let someone else make a decision for me. Watch for yourself, you will see. Keep up the good work CBS.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

it falls really flat but i must say that i want it to prove itself next week.

i am a high school graduate of 1973 who’s parents built their mid-income level “dream house” in a 60-70s suburb and am fairly certain that some of the adults were into playing the field. the depicted demographic in this show is way off. to place this episode in the wealthy-end suburb is to risk losing most of the rest of us who may feel left out of the equation. too bad you missed the boat,

Posted by mjy | Report as abusive

I lived through the swinging 70s in Los Angeles and it was a truly damaging time both emotionally and when it went into the workplace. Because I had nothing to do with the swinging life style, I was harassed, even fired. I thought the show was going to capture the sleze and subsequent disease that went on, but the show did not and I am glad. I hardly recognized the 70′s (LA style) from the show. The REAL SWINGERS claimed to be “live and let live” people. They were anything but.

Posted by Taffy | Report as abusive

I thougt the show was great. I loved the music and the clothes and the avocado kitchen! It’s just a show. I was a teenager in the 70s and I cannot imagine my parents experimenting like that, but I’m sure they struggled with their choices in life and the times that we lived in back then. I’ll watch it next week.


I wasn’t going to watch but a friend just let it slip that they were swingers so I had to see what it was about. I thought it was a good show, and I have a feeling it’s going to get in to the deeper issues of swinging, the jealousy and insecurities. Well time will tell… I plan to keep watching for now!

Posted by T | Report as abusive

I loved the show…I think it is time for America to be more open about things..I am still waiting for an all gay tv show on Network tv

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

This is the best show I have ever seen. I grew up in the 70′s and this show brings back so much memories. The swinging plot is icing on the cake. The actors are believable. I love the characters, music, clothes, innocence and everything. I absolutely loved this show and can’t wait for the next one!

Posted by Christian | Report as abusive

Any critic who feels they have the understanding to evaluate a show based on one or a few episodes is an idiot. I found the reviews to be off track and not demonstrating an understanding of the show. Just because reviewers thought of a catchy obnoxious headline for your review does not make you clever or demonstrate insight. “Swingtown” needs to be allowed to develop the characters. Then viewers can decide.

I personally think the show was great at this early stage and the writing is well done.

Posted by Stephen Carmona | Report as abusive

Keep in mind that critics tend to watch a lot of TV, so their viewpoint tends to be skewed toward more original and smart programming. However, if you’re just looking for a cheap nighttime soap opera, Swingtown will do it for you.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

We loved the show and we want more

Posted by Joe N Erica | Report as abusive

I loved the show. I was waiting for it to get stupid but it was just a fun juicy show. The characters are interesting and I want to know what is going on with Mrs. Miller (the main character) and Mr. Thompson ( the old neighbor) with the sexy glances and the winky looks at each other. I cant wait to see the next episode.

Posted by sandee | Report as abusive

Too much information to be given out where kids can be viewed.

Posted by AL | Report as abusive

I was born in 1973 so I don’t remember much about the 70′s but I loved the show. I love the characters. I also love hearing the music and seeing the clothes and decor for that time. I hope the show makes it but hopefully we will be seeing new episodes often and not have to wait months for new ones. I catch myself looking forward to thursday nights. Great job CBS!!!


We have watched every episode of Swingtown and have enjoyed it immensely . The character development and human angst is interesting. We are left each we to see what will develop next week. When we saw last night that there is only one more episode, we were very disappointed. I hope there is enough outcry and interest that CBS or one of the cable or satellite companies will continue it. This, we feel, could be blockbuster for someone. Let’s hope it continues.

Posted by Ron in Houston | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see