09/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Swingtown": Sex And The '70s Proves Average

SOMEDAY I may better understand the mechanics of the millennial mind. Until then I will wonder how shows like "Ghost Whisperer" keep going and a series like "Swingtown" fails to catch on. A period piece on CBS, "Swingtown" nears the end of its summer run with a dwindling audience despite all the elements that seemed to point to its potential for popularity.

Any network executive familiar with Domino magazine would have been justified in thinking that "Swingtown," with its meticulous re-creation of the 1970s living space, could easily attract every high earner from 34 to 56, from TriBeCa to Laurel Canyon. Set in 1976 on the eve of the Carter presidency and during the midnight of mass-cultural sexual mischief, "Swingtown" reminds us what a rerun the American experience really is. We make our beds more neatly now -- tuck our children into them more securely -- but in many ways the scent of mayhem is familiar.

Has it ever felt quite so much like the mid-'70s? Here we are on the brink of a turning-point election, facing an oil crisis, tumbling employment, fears of stagflation, executive overreach. At the same time trend watchers know that decorators have exhumed and repurposed trellis wallpaper, ceramic dogs, black lacquer and upholstery fabric that looks as if it has come from the cabin of a Braniff 747.

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