October 16, 2005 11:01 PM by Joe Blackmon
This week in "Downs/Bailey," a career-obsessed workaholic mother who talks to clients on her cell phone more than she talks to her own family swaps lives with a child obsessed over-protective mother who doesn’t talk to anyone but her family, on ABC’s "Wife Swap" — the critically-acclaimed, unscripted reality show that takes us into the intimate heart of the American family home, revealing the extraordinarily different ways families live their lives — MONDAY, OCTOBER 17 (8:00-9:00 ET), on the ABC Television Network.
Each week, from across the country, two families with very different values are chosen to take part. In a two-week-long challenge, the wives from these two families exchange husbands, children and lives (but not bedrooms) to discover what it’s like to live another mother’s very different life. It’s a mind blowing experiment that often ends up changing their lives forever.
Roz Bailey (40) is a high-powered realtor who lives in a spacious home in South Carolina with her factory worker husband, Chad (34), 14-year-old daughter Helen and 7-year-old son Nicholas. Workaholic Roz, who has no time to do anything but work, leaves Chad to cook, clean and care for the children. Roz’s all-consuming career takes a toll on her relationship with her husband and her kids. Helen complains that Roz never makes it to her school activities and, when she does, her cell phone never stops ringing. Teenager Helen also has to play second mom to Nicholas. To make up for her absence, Roz showers the family with expensive gifts: a new truck for Chad, clothes for Helen and all the video games Nicholas wants. While the Baileys appreciate the material things that Roz’s career affords them, they are frustrated by her absence and want her to devote more time to the family.
Roz travels to the Texas home of Paula Downs (35), who spends every minute of the day with her seven children ages, 1-16. Every single minute. All seven children share a bedroom with Paula and husband Rodney (38), and the family maintains very tight quarters in an RV most of the time. The Downs genuinely believe that good parenting means being with the children 24/7. Super-protective Paula home-schools the kids, who are not permitted to leave the house by themselves – not even to go in the front yard. Sixteen year-old Samantha has never been to a mall, a movie or out with friends alone. But even within the home Paula is on guard: the kids are not allowed to use cooking knives or bleach, and they are required to wash their hands constantly to combat germs. The Downs kids are all extremely well behaved and help out with the chores. They also enjoy singing, dancing and playing together. Rodney Sr. owns his own small business and, when he’s home, Paula and the kids do everything for him.
In the first week of the swap, workaholic Roz must wait on Rodney Sr. hand and foot while mothering all seven children. Meanwhile Paula, who has never let her own children out of her sight, must abandon the Bailey kids to go to work.
In week two of the swap, when the wives change the rules and turn the table, Roz puts an end to the Downs’ home-schooling and makes them get their education in a classroom, not a living room. She makes Rodney do all the cleaning and housework and allows the sheltered Downs girls to go on dates. In the Bailey home, den mother Paula home-schools the kids and rents an RV for some quality family bonding time. At the end of the swap, when the couples are reunited, will the Baileys and Downs find common ground, or are their differences too great to overcome?