September 28, 2004 -- ONE of the very best new reality series this season is the unfortunately named, but seductively titled, "Wife Swap."
Perhaps it should be called "Life Swap" because it's not just the wives who learn something here. It's the families.
Or maybe it should be called, "How Can Anyone Want to Be On Television This Much?"
One family, in fact, comes across so badly that you can't believe they'd allow themselves to be shown this way. Then you realize the horrifying truth: They think it's cool.
The premise is simple enough. Each week, the wife/mother of one family trades places with the wife/mother of another.
Each wife leaves a diary of her daily life and schedule for the other to follow. Yes, it's incredibly sexist.
This week, one seemingly shallow, rich New York City woman and her nasty-sounding husband (Jodi and Steven Spolansky) - who have three young kids, four nannies, one cook and a full-time driver - trades lives with a rural New Jersey woman and her family (Lynn Bradley and hubby - I swear - Brad Bradley) and their two teen girls.
Wealthy Jodi works out three hours a day, shops four and spends $4,000 a week on clothes. For herself.
Lynn is a school bus driver with a wood-chopping business (she chops six hours a day!) who cleans house, makes the meals, spends all her time with her family, and has no time for herself.
Soon as Jodi arrives in New Jersey, she starts crying because there's a school bus and a truck parked in the Bradley's driveway. "That's not something I'm exposed to," she bawls.
Lynn, meantime, goes to the Spolansky apartment, which looks like it was decorated by Leonard's of Great Neck, and she too too starts crying.
"These poor kids!" she exclaims after reading Jodi's diary and realizing that they have hardly anytime with their mom. Nobody seems wrapped too tight here. Delicious.
The next morning, Jodi gets up at 5:45 and spends 15 minutes chopping wood before calling it quits. Lynn sleeps in and then goes shopping, ($777 for shoes, $185 workout with Radu, $500 haircut, $75 manicure), and seems underwhelmed by the whole thing.
Within days, Jodi and Brad begin fighting because Jodi won't do Lynn's job.
It seems impossible that anyone can be this clueless.
When Jodi's husband, Steven, takes Lynn out to dinner with their friends, he says, "You get up at 5:30? What do you have - a paper route or something?" How can you not hate this guy?
So who learns what? Jodi learns she needs to spend more time with her kids, Brad learns he can't take his wife for granted. Lynn learns that it is OK to have what Jodi calls "me time," and Steven learns, well, nothing. I learned that "Wife Swap," is impossible to stop watching.