"People were looking for personal ways to liberate themselves from conventions and dogma of the '50s and '60s. But you don't want to be rose coloured, so there will be consequences."
One of Poul's earliest efforts was Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, and he sees parallels between the two projects. PBS had aired the first mini-series, but pulled out of the planned second despite the stellar ratings for "overtly political reasons." Showtime eventually came to the rescue and produced the other two.
Poul points to the PBS timidity as an early salvo in the culture war in the United States, the "aggressive division between left and right in what's acceptable as publicly funded culture or art." That early experience prepared him for the controversies of Swingtown, but the fact that the culture war hasn't progressed much on the television battlefield since then seems dispiriting to Poul.
"Both Tales of the City and Swingtown take place during the summer of 1976 and both of them are very open-hearted, all-embracing, and non-judgmental looks at certain subcultures that existed during that decade. So I think of both as being very warm and loving programs that are appropriate for anyone to see," he asserted. "But because of the weird double standards we have in our culture, both of them in their own day — Tales of the City was in 1994, Swingtown today — have been considered controversial or hot-button. It seems to me there's certain aspects of the hypocrisy that's intrinsic to American broadcast standards that haven't changed."
"And the other thing that hasn't changed is that I simply can't get myself out of the '70s," Poul added, slightly less seriously.