This summer, CBS is hoping to make their audience interested in sex again, which isn't easy when the only reference to sex on your network is repeated use of the phrase "presence of semen" on the roughly 8 hours of CSI that air each week.
CBS's sexual re-awakening comes in the form of Swingtown, a drama about open marriages, key parties, bored suburbanites, handlebar mustaches, fondue, and everything else tawdry or dirty about the 1970s. Basically it's The Ice Storm meets The Wonder Years—which is almost exactly how it was pitched.
If the show looks more like something that would air on HBO or Showtime, that's because the creators (Mike Kelley and Alan Poul) made Swingtown with the cable networks in mind, and they only went with CBS after HBO passed on it. But there was a problem: the sex drama had a little too much sex in it for network TV.
From The NY Times:
There was, however, the not insignificant matter of nudity and the graphic depiction of sexual acts. The script, as written for cable, was rife with both. Mr. Kelley, in consultation with Mr. Poul, was directed to do a rewrite.
"I think we're able to be more groundbreaking and more culturally subversive by putting this on a network, where more people will be exposed to it and where we'll have to deal with these adult issues in an oblique way," Mr. Poul said.
Mr. Kelley agreed. "I actually think the shackles of having to show more explicit things every week to week to week on cable would have been far more constricting."
Um, maybe. But certainly turning your show about crazy sex parties and open marriages into one big tease is a little constricting too, right? Also, what would you put in place of the offending "graphic depictions of sexual acts"? The article doesn't go into specifics, but here are a few ideas for sex replacements in Swingtown:
—Bingo tournaments ("I want to play bingo with your wife. Would you like to play bingo with mine?" has a nice ring to it.)
—A camera that pans out the window and zooms in on a sunset whenever people start kissing.
—Furious building of birdhouses (A repressed wife catches her husband building a birdhouse in the garage, and later describes the horrible scene to her friend, "He was in there. Alone. Surrounded by tiny nails, and hammering.")
—Liberal use of giant black boxes to cover anything that could be considered nudity.
—Shot after shot of icicles forming on tree branches
—Slo-mo dissolves of horses running whenever a character takes off his shirt.