What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the show's laughs -- and there are plenty -- come at the expense of the moms who trade places, sometimes uncomfortably. A deeply religious woman seriously looks like she's gone nuts; a crunchy mom's job as a hypnotherapist is mined for humor. Though the participants may deserve the lobs thrown at them, the cringe factor often supersedes the entertainment value.
What's the story?
In each episode of TRADING SPOUSES, two women from opposite walks of life are plucked from their daily routines and transplanted into each other's homes, where they must find a way to adjust, get along, and get to know their "new" relatives. In the end, they get $50,000 for their families. At the end of their stay, both moms sit down and write letters to each other outlining how they think the $50,000 should be spent. Then they bid their temporary clans adieu, meet up for what's often an awkward, but heartfelt, encounter, and finally get to return to their families, which have sometimes been made better by the presence of a stranger.
Is it any good?
Watching the women open their eyes, sometimes in horror, sometimes with joy, at the lives they must lead for the week is an irresistible sociological stunt. But enjoying the series' premise sometimes feels like rubber-necking at the site of an accident, since several of these women find themselves in serious emotional meltdowns. It's guilty pleasure that's heavy on the guilt, and that's not always so fun.
But the homecomings are what make watching the show worth it, with the kids overjoyed to see their moms back in the fold and the husbands relieved. Perhaps it's true: There's no place like home.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about first impressions and how they form when the participants meet for the first time. Are they often right? Or do they make it more difficult to get to know people? And what happens when the families realize that their "new mom" is much different from their real mom? Ultimately, what's the payoff -- aside from the money -- for the moms who agree to the swap and the families who let virtual strangers into their homes?