December 19, 2005 12:01 AM by Joe Blackmon
This week in "Ast/Green," a do-good mom who believes in teaching her children civic responsibility swaps places with a free-spending, high maintenance mother who spoils her daughters and even pampers her dog at the expense of her husband, on "Wife Swap," MONDAY, DECEMBER 19 (8:00-9:00 p.m., 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.
Joan Ast (43) lives a pampered existence with her husband, Greg (45), and their two daughters, Janelle (19) and Ashley (17), in a luxurious mansion overlooking a Colorado golf course. Joan is a stay-at-home mom whose life revolves around keeping herself looking good, with daily workouts, frequent manicures, pedicures, tanning sessions and cosmetic enhancements. Appearances are paramount to Joan. She has a weekly cleaning team to keep her home immaculate, and never makes her children do any chores. She goes on shopping sprees for designer clothes and accessories, while multi-millionaire contractor husband Greg picks up the tab. Joan lavishes attention on her pet Chihuahua while ignoring her husband, treating the dog to $200-a-week spa visits and feeding it filet mignon and purified water. Free-spending daughters Janelle and Ashley are following in Mom’s high-priced footsteps, relying on Daddy to pay their enormous monthly credit card bills. The Asts spend a lot of money, but very little time together as a family.
Joan travels to the suburban Maryland home of stay-at-home mom Vicky Green (40) and husband Darryl (39), a telephone engineer. The Greens lead a modest, middle-class life in a very lived-in home with their five children, Eric (16), Chelsea (13), David (10), Kayla (8) and Dara (6). Vicky devotes herself to her family and home-schools the kids, teaching them responsibility by enforcing strict rules. Vicky and Darryl believe in giving back to the community, so the entire family volunteers for numerous charitable causes — collecting toys for underprivileged children, cleaning up public spaces and building homes for less fortunate families — even though their own house is in need of repair. Vicky adheres to a strict budget and spends little money or time on herself. She believes beauty is only skin deep, and delights in the fact that her husband still finds her attractive. The family makes a point of eating dinner together each night and enjoys other quality time as well.
In the first week of the swap, Joan objects to Darryl treating his kids "like servants" and bristles at doing manual labor at a Habitat for Humanity construction site, decked out in a hardhat and bare midriff. Meanwhile, non-materialistic Vicky is lonely and lost in the Ast mansion, and has to fight back her own tears when Janelle breaks down and cries about wanting a mother who acts like one.
In the second week of the swap, when the wives change the rules and turn the tables, Joan liberates the kids by tearing up the chore chart and taking them shopping for hipper clothing, while
Vicky makes Greg and the girls donate their clothes to charity, then guides Janelle and Ashley in a home-made and heartfelt birthday celebration for their father. At the end of the swap, when the couples are reunited, will they find common ground? Or will they all discover their differences run too deep?
"Wife Swap" is an RDF Media production. It was created by Stephen Lambert and is executive-produced by Lambert and Jenny Crowther of RDF Media ("Faking It" and "Junkyard Wars") and Michael Davies of Diplomatic ("Who Wants to be a Millionaire"). Wendy Roth is the co-executive producer.