English situation comedy is a mirror that reflects the British attitude to, amongst other things, sex. It’s a distorted mirror, but a mirror nonetheless.
If fact I’d go so far as to say that it isn’t as distorted as some of the publicly expressed views about sex that are heard from public figures and earnest documentaries on sex and sexuality.
It’s easier to discuss and depict subjects we are uncomfortable about when there is a protective layer of comedy over them. We can pretend that we’re not quite serious about the whole thing, the humour giving us a degree of separation that is comforting and allows us to dismiss elements of a subject that we find difficult as simple farce.
One particular element of sexuality that was often sniggered about in the 1970s was swinging. The thought of respectable suburban couples throwing their car keys into a big wooden fruit bowl and the wives sleeping with the owner of the keys they pulled out was legend. Everyone knew someone who knew someone who did it but nobody admitted that they or their friends did it. Well nobody that knew my family did anyway. And I suppose at that age I shouldn’t have been listening in to those sorts of conversations a the parties round our house.
The resurgence of swinging and it’s coincidence with the development of home access to the Internet has changed swinging into something else in the early 21st century.
In the 1970s and early 80s I always regarded it as a middle class pursuit. The realm of bank managers and other professionals. You notice how the British class system even figured in what sexual practices each member of our society got up to, LOL. Now it’s much more egalitarian, everyone and anyone can do it.
And if they like post the picture son the Internet.