Did Wife Swap ever stray from their format?

While wanting some noise in the background while folding a bunch of laundry, I happened to catch a Wife Swap marathon with my wife. The show, like many ‘reality’ shows, is probably heavily designed around focus groups, because I noticed they follow a pretty narrow format and rarely stray from it:

1.) 95% of the families are white. I’ve seen a few black families, but no asian or latino families. (which reminds me how I almost never see latinos or asians on talk shows either). It seems like they are missing out on a lot of potential, since what makes these shows compelling is seeing how different some other families are.

2.) Aside from some little gimmick or weirdness all the families that get swapped seem extremely similar (again, I’m guessing through focus groups the producers weeded out the applicants that were outliers and only picked the ‘safe’ families). The only really ‘unique’ swap I saw was a wife who was part of a poly triad (married to another man and woman, bisexual) getting swapped with a family of Tea Party enthusiasts. It went about as well as you could expect. So far I haven’t seen any gay/lesbian couples.

3.) While the ‘extreme’ pairings are fun to watch as a guilty pleasure, a lot of them are basically just “organized, discipline mom swapped with disorganized, undisciplined mom”. What’s annoying is they try and make it like each visiting mom is somehow contributing something her host family was missing. But from a practical standpoint, the ‘lazier’ of the two moms always seems to have a much weaker contribution: they try and make it look like she is more fun-loving, getting the family to eat or go out together. But its often a real stretch, vs the ‘responsible’ moms that help get their host families to get into shape, be better with their finances, set better boundaries with their kids, etc.

Sheesh, maybe I need to get out more but the American Wife Swop programs I’ve seen appear quite extreme. But not so far away from the mainstream that the situations are unbelievable.

Besides I’m sure the producers exaggerate and incite the participants in order to extract extra drama.

I tend to prefer the UK version of Wife Swop because it feels a bit more realistic rather than contrived for the camera.

Reality shows of this type (family, occupation, real estate) are always heavily formulaic.

That may have something to do with the fact that 90% of the families are batsh!t crazy. Showcasing a crazy white family is one thing, but a crazy minority family could look racially or ethnically offensive.

Remember the “god warrior” woman who was on one of these shows and was briefly an internet meme? They brought her back for a second episode and for whatever reason paired her with a black family whose quirk was that they talked about racism and slavery 24/7. No joke like she would say she likes ice cream and the dad would start talking about how black slaves were used to grow and harvest sugarcane, she would say she liked a house and he would find some way to tie it back into slavery.

They made me feel sorry for the god warrior woman.:stuck_out_tongue:

I saw one years ago where a working-class fundamentalist couple swapped with a gay (male) couple. The fundamentalist husband went into literal hysterics at the thought of even having a gay man in his house and had to be talked down by his pastor. Meanwhile the wife was like “You mean I don’t have to do ALL the cooking and cleaning and other housework and childcare? Do I have to go home again?”. You ended up feeling really sorry for the fundamentalist couple: for the man who was so terrorized by the thought of The Other that he couldn’t function, and for the woman who had to live with him.

Were there any pairings where the religious person was mellow and the nonreligious/atheist person was super smug about it? Because its always insufferable smug fundy mom paired up with laid back hippie mom. The nonreligious family is trying to be patient and open minded while the fundy person doesnt budge an inch.

It also would have been cool to have people of other religions on the show, for some diversity.

There was at least one with a lesbian couple.

I tried watching this show a few times as just a guilty pleasure but had to stop when it seemed really cruel. In particular I remember one episode with a nice farm family that raised chickens vs. a city family. In the meeting between the couples at the end of the show they got all testy with each other and the city mom made a really cruel comment about how the other lady’s house smells like chicken shit.

The look on the farm lady’s face was just so sad. With the most hurt look, she whispered “You can smell it in the house?” You could tell this was something she was sensitive about and was mortally embarrassed. She sobbed after that. It was just mean, for no reason other than a cheap tv show. I couldn’t watch the show any more.