'Swingtown' Gender Roles

Joshhopkins_swingtown_240 This week, Swingtown touched upon another social hot topic: gender roles. And we watched the relationships of our main characters further devolve. I think the producers are trying to tell us something.  The 70's sucked!

The show starts off with Susan faking an orgasm, which is no way to start off a sexy episode of any show. But it does certainly set a tone for us to explore; namely, that all is far from right in 1976 suburbia. In fact, Roger is going back to see the psychiatrist, Carolyn, without being totally truthful to Janet about it. When she asks him if he's going on a job interview, he tells her he's following up on something. In fact, what he's following up on is telling someone that he's in love with Susan.

Meanwhile, Janet is off to the office, leaving Roger to do some light housework and cooking. Rick sees his dad in  an apron and becomes more than a little mouthy. Speaking of mouthy, Laurie tells her parents that Doug is going to teach her how to drive. It seems her self-righteous stand against contributing to the energy crisis takes a back-seat to the inconvenience of taking the L to see her teacher/boyfriend. Which, how is taking the L inconvenient, exactly? Either way, Bruce offers to teach her and she gives him the brush off. Which is fair, considering Bruce is giving Susan the brush off after promising to spend more time with her. Tee time: home-wrecker.

Since Bruce is off golfing, Susan goes over to Trina's for a swim and to tell her what a disaster their vacation was. Trina invites them to join her and Tom for the opening of a new night club they are thinking about investing in, but Susan turns her down in favor of "quality time" with Bruce. Which means, she will be calling Trina back later in the episode to ask if the invite still stands. No one wants quality time with Bruce. Conversely, Janet's boss wouldn't mind some quality time with her, as he liberally gropes her butt on her first day, leaving her supervisor to shrug and say "get used to it". I would answer that he could also get used to me beating him about the head and shoulders with my stapler, but then I am a mouthy sort too.

Susan runs into Roger at the grocery store, which shocks her as apparently men did not frequent such establishments back in the day. He admits that he's trying to help Janet around the house by making Chicken Kiev that night and she offers to help him out. Next thing we know, Roger and the object of his affection (hint: not his wife) are in the kitchen rubbing meat. That's not a euphemism. They were spicing the chicken, get your minds out of the gutter! She tells him he looks cute in an apron and he awkwardly asks her why she called from the cabin and if she was trying to reach Janet. She admits that she was not, before telling him she brought him back a skipping rock. He tells her there is something he needs to tell her, but before he can get the words out, Janet returns home and Susan congratulates her on the job before getting the heck out of there.

Meanwhile, Sam has dropped by to invite B.J. to hang out with her and her cousin Lisa. At first, Rick is his usual derogatory self. However, when he gets a look at Lisa, he decides to join in and the next thing we know, they've all decided to get together and play cards. This leads Susan to remark on their little boys first double date. She notes that she misses having firsts and guesses that hers and Bruce's are all gone. Well, once you cross the group sex threshold, it can seem like you are limited. Of course, they do have a friend who's a pilot, so there's the option of mile-high firsts, transcontinental firsts, red-eye firsts. What?

Anyway, with Laurie using coy word games with Doug about who's a fast learner and who's an excellent teacher before hopping in the sack, and B.J. out for the night, it means Bruce & Susan really will get some quality time with each other. So, as predicted, they call Trina & Tom to go to that club opening. Once there, they do the New Yorker and are offered cocaine but opt for Quaaludes instead. We all know where this is going, right? Soon enough, Susan is complaining that the dance floor is too hot and they are all going back to the pool. I really hope they have a strong chlorination regime.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Janet, Roger and Rick, who are sitting down to a lovely dinner of charcoal. It seems someone forgot to set the timer on the chicken. Janet notes that Rick is wearing Roger's cologne and finds out that he is going to play cards. Which, apparently is the Devil's game and she forbids him from going. He tells her Roger already said it was OK and she counters that she is saying it's not OK. Rick reverts to form and demands to know who wears the pants in the family, since he already knows who wears the apron. Zing! Roger tells him to go ahead and go, leading Janet to criticize him for the atrocious dinner, as well as accuse him of not doing enough to find another job.

In a garage on the other side of town, the poker turns to strip poker and in no time they boys are down to their underwear. Apparently, Lisa's older brother is a professional poker player in Vegas and she's picked up enough of his tricks to be a card shark herself. Rick loses another hand and rather than losing what's left of his clothing, he decides to sacrifice his dignity instead by throwing a minor tantrum. At least, until Lisa kisses him and tells him he's cute when he's angry, leading him into the house. Not too long after, Rick runs back into the garage, his pants recovered. B.J. asks him what happened and Lisa appears to sneer "Absolutely nothing!" Are they setting us up for a gay character? It would fit with the gender role questioning of the episode, and would go a long way to raising the show's profile, that is certain!

Janet apologizes to Roger and he asks her if she is happy, all to the backdrop of Hawaii Five-O. She tells him they are just in a rough patch and he asks her what would make her happy right then. She goes right back to the issue of him getting a job, stating that once he manages that, everything else will fall back to how they were. Of course, the part she is missing is that he wasn't happy with how things were.

The next day, Janet is back at work with her grab-a$$ boss. Only this time, when he grabs, she tells him "With all due respect, you touch my rear again and my husband will come down here and kick yours". I like that she stood up for herself. Yet, the fact that she did so behind the guise of her husband is irritating. While I'll grant that in the 70's sexual harassment was likely a problem in the workplace and one that husbands may have gotten involved in when necessary, I will also maintain that Janet would likely kick plenty of a$$ all on her own. Roger, meanwhile, silently kicks his own a$$ and tells his son to take his time finding a girl and to never settle. Ouch.

Speaking of a$$es being kicked (really, I just love spelling with dollar signs), Susan is having hers done in by what looks like a heck of a hangover. Bruce takes Laurie out for some real drivers ed. and I have to admit that I typed a few cracks about Doug only teaching her about stick shifting, but I feel too dirty about them given the fact that she is a minor and he's in his 20's. Use your own imagination! With them out of the house and B.J. bringing pop-tarts to Sam, it's the perfect (ie. convenient) time for Roger to come over for a visit. He tells Susan that yesterday in the kitchen he was trying to tell her something. She asks him what it was and instead of saying anything else, he kisses her. Annnnd, credits!

My first instinct is that the ending will end up being a dream sequence, but the previews for upcoming episodes show some pretty significant problems on the horizon. What are your thoughts?

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