August 19, 2004 -- THERE'S a new kid on the real ity-show block: The "swap show."
With Fox's "Trading Spouses" a resounding success and "Wife Swap" (ABC) and "Take My Kids, Please!" (WE) on the horizon, shows in which two families trade mom, dad and even the kids are creating buzz in a crowded genre.
"It's the flavor-of-the-month in reality," says industry analyst Marc Berman of Mediaweek. "It's managed to find its own niche, and it's a different twist on the genre and adds a different element.
"It's sort of that comedy/reality formula that's fun to watch," Berman says. "It's so goofy that it's kind of funny."
"Trading Spouses" premiered last month and has averaged 8.4 million viewers, second only to "The Simple Life 2" as Fox's top-rated summer show.
"Wife Swap" premieres next month on ABC, with the network already announcing future episodes to feature bosses and husbands swapping places.
"Take My Kids, Please!" bows Oct. 15 on WE. On that show, kids will be turfed to friends and relatives who don't have kids, in order to give mom and dad some much-needed time alone — while cameras follow the kids in their new surroundings.
"I think there's a salacious taste for [the 'swap show'] at this point because people are tired of the onslaught of design shows," says WE VP of production Jeff Eisenberg, who created "Take My Kids, Please!"
"We're not in the game of throwing horrendous curves at someone with a demeaning competition and eavesdropping on what happens," he says.
"We have no pretense, on our show, of trying to make people fail," Eisenberg says. "Since there's a trend in doing reality shows, we attached parents and kids to our show.
"For us, it's creating programming that's relevant to our audience — which is women juggling many things at once with their family responsibilities. It's a more lighthearted look at the old 'Take my wife, please' routine."
And Mediaweek's Berman says that the success of "Trading Spouses" will be beneficial for ABC's "Wife Swap" and other shows of that ilk.
"I think 'Trading Spouses' has sparked interest in the whole genre," he says. "I predict 'Wife Swap' will do well in one of the hardest timeslots in TV, opposite 'Law & Order' and 'CSI: New York.'
"And, if that happens, you'll see more of these types of shows.
"When something works, everyone else does it."