Parents' Guide to

Wife Swap

By Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Fish-out-of-water reality show -- fine for all.

TV ABC Reality TV 2004
Wife Swap Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 13+

Garbage t.v.

Forced scenarios to create drama, a lot of arguing, some iffy situations. Would not recommend for kids.
age 17+

Okay, Who Let The Cameras in THIS House?

Yes, I like this show, primarily for the fact that families come away better and more appreciative of other for the experience. It's also very interesting to see what two lifestyles will clash on each episode. However, this show is very much adults-only, and sometimes, I even skip the middle. The journey to redemption is rocky, with a lot of fighting and crying and some considerable language (some bleeped, some not). Many Judeo-Christian families may in fact not choose to watch this at all, and I don't blame them; I may eventually take it off my personal schedule. Some of these families are rampant consumerists, obsessed with wealth, or so into one thing that their kids get neglected (for example, monster-hunting, music, Halloween, doll-collecting and treating the dolls like real kids). Freedom = laziness for a lot of these families, too. But what breaks my heart are the appearances of authoritarian families. These are the families that work their kids, literally, from sunup to dark, over-schedule them, may smack them around, and don't care what they think. Some of the men act like this toward their wives, indulging in the "barefoot and pregnant" mentality to its extreme. In fact, "extreme" is the watchword here. I get the feeling some episodes are played for straight drama, especially where Christians are concerned (almost the only Christ-followers are fundamentalist stereotypes who are negatively contrasted with punk rockers or nature worshippers). But it's also doing people a disservice to put any lifestyle on display for the sole purpose of ridicule, which is often what happens. Adults can watch for the discussion fodder, of which there is plenty. But many may end up closing this bedroom door.

This title has:

Too much swearing
Too much consumerism

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (12 ):

With such extremes coming together, the part of each episode in which the wives change the house rules is always difficult. But it's fascinating to watch as the families are forced to try on new behavior. Much of it chafes, and there's plenty of minor rebellion, but ultimately the wives and their families learn that their lives aren't as perfect as they may think and that a little change can't hurt.

Overall, the show is rather simplistic and predictable, but it can still be enjoyable to watch families grow and learn from each other. Many of the familiar reality-show elements come into play -- the producers clearly accentuate the conflicts through editing choices, and the ending is always optimistic, but it's less gimmicky and confrontational than its competition, Trading Spouses, which is refreshing.

TV Details

  • Premiere date: September 26, 2004
  • Network: ABC
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Last updated: August 19, 2022

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