Meet the Bowers family. They are a middle lower class family who live in a rural area of Massachusetts. Lisa is Craig’s wife, and their relationship seems to be based on humor, sarcasm, snide remarks and laughter. Lisa is the more dominant of the couple and spends much of her time trying to get on Craig’s nerves. She is a big woman with a somewhat disheveled appearance, but she seems comfortable with who she is. Craig is the most laid back member of the family. He still dishes out the sarcasm and wit as well as the others, but he carries himself with an “I don’t give a crap” kind of attitude. Lisa and Craig have two children – Katlin and Eric. Katlin is the oldest at 13 and Lisa describes her as funny and smart and the kind of girl she wish she had been herself at that age. Her description of her son, Eric, is less flattering – she always wanted three children until she had him. Both children are overweight, as are their parents. Eric is that kid you went to school with that belched really loudly from the back of the bus and was constantly trying to be the center of attention. Katlin is funny, but the least obvious of the family, and seems really likeable. The atmosphere of the house is very casual and the family seems to spend most of their time together – in fits of laughter.
Meet the Pilek family. Samantha is Jurek’s wife and mother to 13-year old Zack and 12-year old Katie. The family lives in Orange County in California. Sam describes them as upper middle class, but compared to the Bowers, the Pileks are rich! Sam is the typical California blonde. She takes pride in her appearance and takes care of her body. Jurek is from New York originally, and has this brooding thing going on. He works as a skipper for private yachts so the family gets to travel extensively. Zack and Katie are absolutely beautiful kids. Zack is a baseball player and Katie is her mother’s mini-me. Sam considers herself lucky. She says she thinks that a positive attitude will take you far in life – but she doesn’t say it in that annoying way that Tammy “Positivism” Yakamura did last week. Her husband says that she just always looks on the bright side.
Now that the introductions are out of the way, let’s get down to it. Here’s the deal. For one week, Lisa Bowers and Sam Pilek will leave their homes and their families. Lisa will play surrogate mom and wife at the Pilek house in California and Sam will be Lisa’s replacement in Massachusetts with the Bowers. The reward for switching families is $50,000. However, the twist that we all know about already is that Lisa has to spend her $50,000 however Sam says she should and vice versa. Granted, the families do not find that out until it is all said and done. So let’s get on with the show.
Sitting on her bedroom floor in the Pilek’s beautiful home in California is Sam. Katie is sitting on her mom’s bed watching as Sam packs for her week away. Sam is counting out how many outfits she is going to need, including day and evening wear and settles on twelve, further deciding she will need half of a suitcase to accommodate her shoes. Early the next morning, as Sam prepares to leave, she begins to cry. Jurek tells her not to cry in front of Katie because that will just make it harder for their daughter. As Sam is about to walk out the door, Zack is laying in his bed with his eyes open and Katie runs down the stairs into her mother’s arms. Both girls begin to cry. Sam says that her son and husband will be fine without her for a week, but that it is really going to be tough on Katie.
At the Bower’s house, in the early morning hours before sunrise, Lisa gets her things together to leave. No one gets up to see her off and the last thing her husband says to her is “Make sure you shut the door on your way out.” She is a bit hurt by their lack of concern, but has to see that this goes right along with how this family treats one another.
As the families get up and around, they discuss what their replacement moms might be like. The Bowers worry about getting a strict, fat, bossy new mom and the Pilek’s worry that they will get a new mom that will try to move in, impose her rules and wreck the routine. While sitting at the airport in the baggage claim area, with an upside down sign that reads “Samantha Pilek,” the Bowers try to pick out which person might be coming with them. Like a light bulb went off in his head, Craig says, “Maybe she will be normal. Maybe she won’t be fat or bossy at all. Maybe we’ll be the fat ones.” Craig, my guess is that if you guys are not the fat ones, your new mom will have trouble fitting in the car. After waiting awhile, the Bowers stand and Sam walks towards them, smiling and pointing out that their sign for her is upside down. They all laugh and introduce themselves.
Back in California, Jurek stands in the airport with a right side up computer printed sign with Lisa Bowers’ name on it. Standing not more than two feet away from Jurek is Lisa who continues to slowly turn and look around as if waiting for her ride. As Jurek inches towards her, with obvious sign in hand, Lisa turns and says, “Get any closer to me and I’m going to bite you.” I have no idea how she missed Jurek’s sign, but I think it’s always a good idea to be rude and mean to the people with whom you are going to stay. Nothing better than a bad first impression, I always say. What I don’t get, other than Lisa missing the sign, is how she possibly could have missed Jurek’s camera crew. You know they both had a crew with them so it should have been pretty obvious to find each other. After realizing being a bitch was probably a bad idea, Jurek and Lisa greet with a hug and go to the car. In the car, Lisa skips right over the small talk and begins to complain about the plane ride, the lines at the airport, being hungry and her headache. I foresee a long week for the Pileks.
In the Bower’s car things are going much better. Everyone is talking and getting to know each other. Sam mentions that she has had nothing to eat and Craig says, “We’ll order a pizza when we get home.” Sam replies, “Will it be low carb?” The car goes silent and viewers around the nation shudder as memories of Tammy and her low carb addiction come back to haunt us. Once they arrive at the Bower’s home, Craig tells Sam that only one bathroom is working. Her eyes widen and she says, “We all have to share?” Her world is shaken. As they show her around the place, Craig does not really say anything overtly, but by the way he is pointing out things in his home, it is as if he is apologizing for the way he lives. Eric joins in and points out the broken above ground pool in the backyard. Everyone laughs, but it feels uncomfortable. In confessional she says that she is accustomed to a certain lifestyle, so living at the Bowers will be a challenge. While Eric is on the phone ordering the pizza to be delivered, Sam asks him to get her a salad. He and Katlin are surprised saying they have never heard of anyone ordering a salad from a pizza place. Eric says that it must be a California thing – that people care about their bodies and what they eat. Uh… Eric. It is not just a California thing, though it seems to be heightened on the West Coast. The pizza arrives, Sam eats her salad and Eric complains that their large pizza is too small.
Back at the Pilek’s, Lisa follows in Mela’s footsteps from the prior week, and begins to clean an already spotless house – dusting and sweeping and mopping and searching for trash. Lisa is annoyed because Katie is sitting on the couch doing nothing while Lisa does all this unnecessary work. She finds Katie spoiled and lazy. A bit later, the maid appears, sweeping a previously swept and already clean floor for the second time that day. My guess is that Katie is not lazy. She just knew the maid was coming. Lisa gets a bit defensive with the Pilek’s maid, giving her the third degree: “How long have you been here? How long are you staying? What all are you going to do?!!” After the maid finishes being interrogated, Lisa tells her not to put away the kids’ clean laundry and not to clean the kitchen. Lisa thinks it is time to teach these kids responsibility!! Jurek is walking by as Lisa is directing the maid and he says offhandedly to the maid, “No you can do it all” and leaves the room. Lisa is pissed and makes sure that the maid does as she is told. As Jurek and Lisa leave with the dog to go who knows where, she yells to Zack who is outside playing basketball, “You need to load the dishwasher after your sister unloads it! Get it done before we get back!!” Zack is angry that some loud and bossy woman he has barely spoken to is coming in and telling him what to do without seeing how things are already done. In confessional, Katie says, “I think she’s rude.” Katie, I do, too.
Sam is handling things a lot differently with the Bowers. Instead of coming in and trying to change the way things are, rather, she is trying to ingratiate herself with the family. She is being encouraging and actually positive with the family. It is kind of like she is on vacation, but at a resort that it a lot less nice than her home. The Bowers and Sam all go bowling, which Sam admits is not her gig. She and Katlin are on a team against the boys. Despite not being the bowling type, Sam does not complain and seems to enjoy herself, high-fiving and hugging Katlin when they do well. Craig is not enjoying the game so much. He and Eric are losing because all of Eric’s rolls are gutter balls. After hearing Craig berate Eric for the umpteenth time, Sam chimes in, “You need to encourage him! Cheer him on!” Eric is grateful for her kindness and enjoys that each time he goes up to bowl, Sam is sitting behind him clapping and wishing him well.
For recreation at the Pilek pad, the whole family heads to the beach for the day. It is an awkward encounter in that the Pileks only took enough chairs for the three of them and really did not want to interact with Lisa at all. She tried to get Katie to go for a walk with her, but Katie said no. No one got up to offer her a place to sit, so Lisa just stood, eventually wandering off to the surf to get her feet wet. For dinner, the Pilek’s head out for sushi, I think. Wait, which week is this? Last week, did we not have a blonde woman married to a man of a different ethnicity and he and his kids took their replacement mom out for sushi? Granted, I don’t remember Mela being such a lush. Anyway, the Pileks and Lisa go out for Asian food. Lisa spends the entirety of the meal doing shots of sake with beer chasers. The more she drinks, the louder she gets. No one else at the family seems to be enjoying their dinner out. I would not enjoy myself much if between every bite, I had to hear some odd woman yell “Sake!” as she downed another drink. It is obvious that Lisa is unwelcome and unwanted. Granted, Lisa seems to be trying to differentiate herself from what she clearly thinks is a materialistic and unloving family. At dinner, she most inappropriately brings up to Jurek in front of the kids how Jurek spends all of his time with Zack and no time with Katie. She then turns to Katie and says, “Doesn’t it bother you that your father spends all of his time with your brother and none with you?” Katie shakes her head no. Lisa’s attempt to create drama has failed. However, she has succeeded at making herself even further disliked by the Pileks. Good for her.
Dinner at the Bowers house is what looks like a Philly steak sandwich. I’m not sure what they called it, but it was thinly sliced steak with mayo, peppers, onions, shrooms, etc. Craig served everyone their food, but I did not see anything on the plate in front of Sam. Maybe she finished her salad from earlier or something. However, on the plate in front of Eric is the biggest steak sandwich I have ever seen. Sam sits in awe as Eric eats every last bite of it. After he finishes, she says, “No wonder you’re so big!” Eric is insulted… as I would have been. He repeats what she said and she says, “No! I mean, like a big guy. Like a football player!!” She tried to soften her statement, but the truth was out there and she said it out loud. Eric, you’re fat.
It is now the middle of the week and the women find out they have to throw a party for the family and friends of their host house. The Bowers pile into the car and head towards the grocery store. While in the car, Sam realizes the windows do not go up and down properly and several things in the car are broken. She asks Craig what year model the car is. He says, “95.” A few moments later, Sam says, “You need to get your wife a new car.” He says that they have to be careful with their money and cannot afford to just go out and get new things. He says, “It’s not like we can just go out and get a Jaguar, like you.” She says her Jag only costs like “500 and something” a month. Yes, 500 and something dollars a month if you paid ohhhhh $20,000 when you bought it. It’s a different life, Sam. Inside the store, the kids go straight towards the sugar cereal, marshmallows, candy and chocolate syrup. Sam nixes all of the sweets and points them in the right direction. When the kids are away, Sam says to Craig, you really should show them how to eat properly. Whatever you give them is what they are going to eat. You have to teach them. Craig, with his shirt stretched over his bulbous belly says, “I have been telling Lisa for the last 3 years not to bring junk food into the house….” He blames his wife. I blame his lack of self control. But hey… who am I to criticize. Nothing beats a big ol’ bag of Peanut M&Ms.
After finding out about having to host a party, Lisa plops down with a pen and paper and tries to enlist Katie’s help with party planning. Katie has no opinion and says she will have to ask her dad. Lisa starts trying to think of themes for the party and color schemes and menus. What is wrong with this woman? This party is not a kid’s birthday party. All you need are snack foods and drinks and voila’! A party! When Lisa has run both kids out of the room with her party planning endeavor, she gets up and goes outside. Jurek is outside cooking pork chops on the grill. He has a bowl with marinade in one hand and a brush in the other. Before he is through putting all the marinade on the chops, Lisa begins to try and take the bowl from his hands. Not just once, but over and over again. Jurek eventually jerks the bowl out of her hands and turns and ignores her. He says he does not enjoy her type of humor. She mentions something else about the party and Jurek interrupts her and says, “You know, the best way for you to get through this is to drink. Heavily.” Lisa turns and heads inside. To the bar.
Tune in next week to find out the conclusion of the Bowers-Pilek mix and match moms!
For comments, questions, or to bag on the contestants, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org