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October 6, 2015

Swingtown: Double Exposure

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 20th 2008 11:41AM
Swingtown(S01E03) Consider this episode of Swingtown a case of being betwixt and between. The Millers have been in their new home all of two weeks and so much has happened to shake their foundation; Susan especially seems like the song "caught in the middle with you." Does she want to be the good wife going to church and being satisfied with the way they were, her and Bruce, back in the old neighborhood? Or is she ready to embrace swinging?

She's at first drawn back to Janet and Roger and the old ways. Because she's still perturbed by the business card she found in Bruce's pants from the Playboy Club, the one from Sylvia suggesting a get together, Susan drags her family to Sunday services for a little God-time. Impulsively, when chatting with Janet, Susan announces that she's having a housewarming and wants Janet's help. It's like she's clinging to a simpler past.

The housewarming party become the centerpiece for a war between the Thompsons and the Deckers, although it's really Janet and Trina that are the main competitors. The prize would seem to be Susan! Can Janet's "pigs in a pickle" -- a truly horrifying appetizer -- compete with Trina's trendy fondue pot filled with bubbling cheese and wine? And the games, Janet's "Who Am I?" vs. Trina's "Forfeit"? Susan is forced to see Janet's old-fashioned ways -- and values -- through Trina's eyes and she's embarrassed. In an act of sheer rebellion, a rejection of the old, Susan rips the tacky wallpaper from her new home exposing a blank canvas, inviting the guests to draw and color as they please. Anarchy, thy name is Susan.

Since swinging with the Deckers, Bruce and Susan are in flux about many things. He's smart enough to come clean about Sylvia's business card -- when Susan confronts him -- and we learn that the Millers are really in love, but neither have had much sexual experience. Susan reminds him, "The first time we had sex, I got pregnant." They agree that sex has consequences, but the temptation to take a few more bites of the apple is calling. At the party, Sylvia and Brad are making invitations. Tom and Trina give them a movie camera and suggest they use it for home-made pornos. The marking up of the walls represents the new freedom the Millers are enjoying. They're blank canvases themselves.

The Miller kids are feeling the changes, too. BJ is compelled to help Samantha, the girl next door, even to the point of turning his back on his best friend, Ricky. Ricky represents youthful innocence, the fort in the basement. Samantha is adulthood, with the complications, even her mother's sexual escapades. BJ is torn between growing up or staying a kid.

Meanwhile, Laurie is acting on her crush. Alone in the library at night with her teacher, Mr. Stevens ("You can call me Doug"), grooving to Bob Dylan music, Laurie lets Doug know she's not such an innocent when she lurches at him with a meaningful kiss. Later on, Laurie doodles on the living room wall a heart with her initials and his. Guess who's in love?

Laurie's leaping forward, but BJ opts for the past just one last time. He and Ricky make a fort in the basement like the one they made in fourth grade.

Susan and Bruce use the new movie camera in the bedroom, presumably with the idea of sharing their escapade with the Deckers. For all intent and purposes, three weeks into the new move, it's clear that the Millers will never be the way they were ever again.

Other points of interest

-- When the boys use Bruce's old Playboy magazines to sell to their friends and get caught, Janet blames Bruce for having the magazines in the first place. Susan defends Bruce and asks Janet if she's sure that Roger doesn't keep things private from her. Her response, "Why would Roger need privacy? We're married."

-- Roger and Bruce have to explain to BJ and Ricky what's wrong with reading Playboy, the fathers have to down the women in the pages, saying, "...There not real. It's called air-brushing." Yes, there was no Photoshop back then.

-- During the magazine auction, one kid offers $1 for a copy. Ricky balks, "That's what it costs at the newsstand." Really, it was just a buck back then!

-- At the party, Trina listens to Bruce when he talks about Susan's attitude about the swinging. He says things have shifted since that night and they're just holding on till things settle. Trina's advice to Bruce, "Just don't hold on too tight."

-- Roger is stunned to learn that Bruce and Susan tried swinging and acts dense when Bruce is explaining what happened. Finally, Bruce goes, "Do I really have to spell this out for you?"

-- Tom and Trina don't come off like vultures. They're quite sympathetic to Bruce and Susan. Trina to Tom, "Remember our first time?" Tom's memory of that swinging, "Oh yeah. We really shook up the snow globe."

-- After giving Bruce the movie camera, Tom offers to bring stuff for the party, suggesting, "Ice, booze, tripod?"

-- Church really gets a slap. BJ and Laurie play hangman during the sermon.

-- At Susan and Bruce's housewarming party, Janet's as buttoned down as her Tupperware. Throughout the episode, the Tupperware is everywhere, but I don't think it's meant as a product plug.

-- Ricky blasts BJ for giving their ill-gotten $20 to Samantha. "I hope she gives you crabs!"

-- From the music track for this episode, we heard Bob Dylan - "I Ain't Me, Babe" when Laurie kisses her teacher. Also Paul Simon's "Kodachrome." But the song that kind of sums things up is the Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

-- My heart really goes out to Roger. At the party, he had another sweet moment with Susan. I think he's in love with her and has been for years, but he's too good a man, too faithful to Janet and morally upright, to act on his feelings. When he finds out that she and Bruce were swingers, he's devastated. Drinking a beer at the end of the show, he's sad.

-- Was the title of this episode about photographs or standards? As in double standards.

-- Mr. Stevens, "Call me Doug -- is really a noble cliche. This week's cause is Prison Literacy Now, and he's purging the library of books that haven't been checked out in five years. Laurie, naturally, has to volunteer to help him. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.
Will Roger and Janet join in with the swinging?
No, never40 (29.0%)
Maybe, if Roger can convince Janet43 (31.2%)
Oh yes, it's going to happen55 (39.9%)

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The guy that plays Bruce was also in a wonderful British comedy called Coupling. It's much better than the version they tried to knock off in the U.S.

June 20 2008 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really am liking this show. I grew up in the 70's and like hearing the music and seeing all the little reminders of my youth. One thing I noticed was the handlebars on that girls bike. Shouldn't they have been the drop down kind? I had one like that. I am surprised no one has that awful teal greenish blue paint on their walls too. Or was that in the 60's?

I don't see Janet joining in on all the swinging though. But Roger definitely has the hots for Susan.

Oh, and church is BORING, so that was actually an accurate portrayal for the kids to do.

The guy that plays Bruce was in Pirates! I didn't recognize him at first, but he sure is a cutie without that captain's hat!

June 20 2008 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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