A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this series features families living according to others' rules. It can be mildly upsetting to watch when parents are forced to go against some of their dearly held beliefs (albeit only for a week). Arguing is common between "spouses" and sometimes with children. Otherwise, this series is very family friendly and can be enjoyed by adults, teens, and kids old enough to be interested in the concepts it tackles.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The provocatively named WIFE SWAP is actually a fairly tame reality drama in which families switch wives for two weeks. During the first week, the wives live according to their new family's rules, and during the second, they introduce changes. The two families are chosen for their stark contrasts, and tension and arguments often occur when the wives' style clashes with that of their new family. In one episode, for example, a workaholic mother whose husband takes care of the house and whose kids complain about her constant cell phone use switches households with a stay-at-home mother who home-schools, won't let her teens date, and sleeps in the same room with her husband and all seven of their kids.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it would be like to switch households. What changes do you think someone else would want you to make? What would be the most difficult thing to change about your family? What things do you wish would change? What's the best thing about your family that you would want to introduce to others?
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