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April 24, 2014

Swingtown: Take it to the Limit (season finale)

by Allison Waldman, posted Sep 6th 2008 11:01AM
swing(S01E13) The summer's officially over on Swingtown, marked by Tom's Labor Day clambake at the shore, which turned out to also be a key party.

Now that the first season of the show has come to an end, it's clear that while they explored hot topics like open marriage, wife-swapping and group sex, the essence of the show was not titillation or a guide page by page through The Joys of Sex. Swingtown was about the characters, three families and the changing times in 1976.

Questions, questions. Will Tom and Trina keep the baby? The Deckers are the open marriage couple and they've enjoyed the freedom to swing. But how amazing is it that they are the marriage that's in synch! They actually talk things out and share what they're thinking. You can't say that about the Thompsons and Millers.

Susan and Bruce have lied to each other in many ways, mostly emotionally. Susan even faked an orgasm recently. And Bruce's relationship with Melinda, while not sexual, is an emotional deceit. When Susan confronted Melinda and learned Bruce spent the night talking with Melinda, it was even more hurtful than if he had made love to her.

All the angst between the Millers came to the fore at the beach, where after a screaming fight, Susan picked a key and went off with a stranger. Bruce was stunned and hurt, but his response wasn't to chase Susan down. He ran to see Melinda.

Susan's been lying too. She was justified in her anger at Bruce, but didn't reveal her dalliance with Roger. And just like Bruce and Melinda, Susan and Roger have not made love. Was it fair for her to be ticked off at Bruce when she was similarly unfaithful? No, but that's how people are.

Roger was determined to honor Susan's request to deny their feelings and move on. He took the job in Cincinnati without sharing the decision with Janet. She initially said yes, like a dutiful wife, but when she got honest and said she didn't want to move, Roger pulled a power play and declared that they were moving.

That more than any other story, illustrated how different things are now. Janet's talk with Trina was the best scene of the show. "You have a say in this, Janet," Trina told her, adding, "Father doesn't necessarily no best anymore." Yes, it's 1976, not 1954.

Janet's on the brink of liberation. She epitomizes the woman who wants the home and family, but also the career outside the house. Her Aunt Trudy/Janet advice column is a catalyst for change. Her pasting the published column in her scrapbook and toasting her success with a sip of champagne was poignant. She was alone. She was celebrating her accomplishment. She is woman, hear her roar.

But did it have to come at a price? Roger doesn't fly to Cincinnati, but not because of Janet and her newspaper job. He can't leave because of Susan. Funny, Janet's love for Susan is also a reason she doesn't want to move, begging the question, do Roger and Janet think they could survive without Susan to lean on and love?

Susan's decision to go to Roger comes on the heels of Bruce blasting her for opening the door to their bedroom and, in his mind, altering their marriage. The door metaphor is obvious and Susan steps through into Roger's room.

Unfinished business is how I view the end of this show. I want to know more. I want Swingtown back. While the series has not reached the high bar of a Mad Men, it's much more than a soap opera. It's compelling, character-driven TV and CBS should give it a thumbs up.

Other points of interest

-- Trina's scene with Tom, when she keeps his key so she can finally tell him about the baby, Elton John's "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" plays in the background. They decide to decide together about whether to have the baby. Seeing Trina reading Dr. Spock later on makes me think they're going to have it.

-- Name dropping...Bruce Jenner. That was when he won the gold in the decathalon at the Summer Olympics, long before Keeping Up with the Khardashians.

-- Did you notice the JFK for Senator poster in Doug's apartment? That's a nice bit of memorabilia to inform the character. Which is why his deciding to go to Guatemala and help earthquake victims made sense. Also, he tells Laurie, "I love you," and then proves it by leaving her behind with a letter promising to come back.

-- I told you that Janet's buddy at the newspaper, Henry, was gay. He's Janet's guardian angel, but I was surprised that he came out to her. In 1976, coming out like that to a co-worker could cost him his job. That wouldn't have happened, especially since he only knew Janet for a few weeks.

-- Rick was really supportive of B.J. about Sam. When they see Sam's mother Gail fooling around, obviously having ditched rehab, it was sad. They knew it meant Sam wouldn't be coming back for a long time.
What should CBS do with Swingtown?
Bring it back in the mid-season494 (53.6%)
Bring it back for another summer run228 (24.8%)
Cancel it because of low ratings10 (1.1%)
Move it to Showtime where it can be more bold189 (20.5%)

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11 Comments

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isoron

Liz is correct!

I came out that year - hey! The gay scene was already happening! Bars - the whole thing! My first lover! It was euphoric!

September 09 2008 at 11:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sugar bear

Yes, bring Swingtown back. I love the Deckers and LOVE Janet.

Please kill off Laurie. She is the oddest looking creature to ever craw out from under a rock. yuck. Plus she is a total snot to everyone.

Reunite Sam & whatever his name is. Love their chemestry.

September 09 2008 at 7:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Liz Newcomb

Sorry, Karen, but Stonewall had happened: June 28, 1969. Having said that, I still thought it was odd that Henry came out so easily to Janet, though maybe he thought she was already aware of his homosexuality.

September 08 2008 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Save Swingtown

Hi everyone if you want to help in saving Swingtown come visit the Save Swingtown website starting Monday we are shipping out bulk orders of Key chains also all the contact information you need to contact CBS is posted


http://saveswingtown.web.officelive.com

September 07 2008 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Save Swingtown's comment
Schev

KEEP THE SHOW for the ones who enjoy it.
The people that don't like it...don't watch it.
Brings back memories of that era. It's something different that keeps me coming back every week.
SHOW MORE HOT ROADS FROM THAT ERA. I LOVE CARS.
They took away "the class" which was a very, very funny show. Some of us are TIRED of the detective shows & blood & guts. WE NEED MORE COMEDY'S, TOO. LET US HAVE A SOAP-TYPE OF SHOW LIKE SWINGTOWN. YOU CAN'T PLEASE EVERYONE.

September 19 2008 at 5:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen

I agree that Henry's admission to Janet was an anachronism. Stonewall hadn't even happened yet. Gay men weren't "dating," not so anyone could notice. It would have made more sense for him to have used some kind of code, when she asked him if he had a date, like "Oh, I'm a confirmed bachelor." Meant the same thing, didn't risk one's life being destroyed.


I was impressed with Tom's reaction to Trina's news. He's more than just a big kid. Their marriage is strong and flexible.

I've loved watching the Millers' and the Thompsons' relationships underscore how each member of the marriage is going in a different direction. Frankly, they'd probably both be better off divorced. They've got nothing in common any more besides their kids.

I wish Laurie HAD gone off to Guatemala. Anything to get her off the show.

September 07 2008 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

Very interesting show to watch. I love the characters they have created for this show and the cast is great. I hope they find a way to bring it back but I doubt they do.
It looked to me like two of the three marriages were about to disintegrate. Will we be left hanging forever?

September 07 2008 at 1:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
it-s

Please, please, please bring this show back!

September 06 2008 at 10:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Crystal

YES! More Swingtown! I want to know what happens for Heavens sake!

September 06 2008 at 9:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patti

As far as your poll goes, you should have had 'I don't care when it happens, just bring it back!'

That's how I feel about this show. The episode ended similar to the Sopranos, black screen. I want to know what Susan and Roger did, dammit! At least they could have had them kiss, that would have been something. I need more Swingtown!

September 06 2008 at 1:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Patti's comment
Dani

I need more Swingtown! (2)

September 06 2008 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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