Never let it be said that network television ducks the hard questions. Like, what's scarier? Being hung upside down in a barn while an insatiable vampire gorges himself at your throat? Or having group sex while loaded on 'ludes and Gary Wright records?
They'll both make you shudder, but the difference is that NBC's new horror anthology series Fear Itself is supposed to be frightening. The grimness of CBS' Swingtown, a chronicle of 1970s wife-swapping culture, is entirely accidental, a byproduct of its relentless fixation on the decadent and the deviant. They say that if you remember the '60s, you weren't really there; watching Swingtown and remembering the '70s, you'll wish you hadn't been.
Created by Mike Kelley, whose previous projects included The O.C. and Jericho, Swingtown focuses on the moment in the mid-1970s when Middle America started to catch up to the '60s. Drugs and sexual experimentation spread outside hippie communes and college campuses into the suburbs; me-first psychobabble proliferated; the divorce rate rocketed. Sang a melancholic Judy Collins: These are hard times for lovers/everyone wants to be free/Ain't these hard times for lovers/Everyone singing, I gotta be me, without you.
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