Do You Swing?

The new series Swingtown, on CBS, takes viewers inside the sexually provocative world of swinger couples in suburban '70s America. The show's creator, Alan Poul, knows a thing or two about pushing the limits of sexuality and tells us what we can expect from his latest.



In the pilot, at least, I felt there was a hint of bisexuality with Lana Parrilla's character, Trina. I got a vibe that she's gone down that road before. Are you saying "gone down," pun intended? [Laughs

See, now you've got me doing it! But I'm curious whether any of the characters in Swingtown will be exploring their queer sides as the series progresses. There are certainly hints that there is a certain amount of sexual fluidity within the group dynamics -- in particular, that the Deckers [played by Parrilla and Grant Show] get involved in. If you've studied open-marriage tracts of the time, it was true that within the early days of open marriage, girl-on-girl contact was tolerated to a much higher degree than boy-on-boy contact, which was strictly prohibited -- sort of like the straight male porn aesthetic, right? On our show, I would say that the relationship that develops between Trina and Susan is certainly a deep, enduring friendship, but that doesn't mean that it's a friendship that has to be devoid of physical content.

You know, I'm surprised you didn't bring up any of the younger characters. 

You mean the friendship between young boys B.J. (Aaron Christian Howles) and Rick (Nick Benson)? That's the ringer. So far, we haven't explored it except in subtextual terms because we're depicting them as presexual. But it's clear in the pilot that little Rick, B.J.'s best friend, has a boy crush.

How so? Just the way that Rick is attached to B.J. and is constantly jealous of him. Actually, there was originally a scene that we never shot that made the subtext a little bit more overt in terms of Rick's boyish attachment to B.J. We screened the pilot for test audiences, and they just jumped to the assumption: "Yeah, I liked the friendship between the two boys, one of which is gay." You can interpret it as you like. These are feelings that the people having those feelings were not even aware of. 

Will any explicitly gay characters ever be introduced? Through a series of circumstances I can't tell you about, Janet (Miriam Shor) will find herself going back into the workplace before the end of the season, and she'll make a new best friend who is going to be her contact in Chicago's urban gay subculture. 

Is that something you’re interested in exploring? The world of the show initially is very white, very straight, and very suburban in the way that suburbia was segregated in those days. Once we feel comfortable that we've delineated that world, we can begin to stretch and explore other lifestyles that were taking place at the same time. It takes a while, but we want to get our characters into a broader range of society.

Tags: television