December 26, 2005 12:01 AM by Joe Blackmon
This week, the husbands hit the road-and the skids-when an environmentalist dad whose family is focused on communal living and saving the planet swaps lives with a hard-living, leather-wearing biker dad with his ‘born to be wild’ family, on "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, DECEMBER 26 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Rebroadcast. OAD: 12/1/04)
Zev Paiss (pronounced pace) (46), lives with his wife, Neshama (44), and their two daughters, Zipporah (5) and Halonah (6), in an environmentally-correct co-housing development in suburban Colorado. The family devote themselves to living an ecologically-sensitive lifestyle-choosing bicycles as their primary mode of transportation, sharing a hybrid car with a neighbor, and espousing the joys of their compost pile. Their shared housing community-which Zev and Neshama helped design-is home to 26 other people and boasts solar panels for electricity, a community vegetable garden and communal dinners that everyone eats together. Mom Neshama is fanatical about the family’s diet and prepares only organic food. Their lives are highly structured and scheduled and include daily yoga sessions and Neshama’s afternoon nap, which she adamantly refuses to forgo. The couple almost never do anything spontaneous.
Zev gets a taste of the non-organic life when he swaps places with 40 year-old Kenny Davis, a motorcycle-loving biker from Colorado. Kenny is the laid-back patriarch of a blended family that includes his girlfriend, Sandy (40), her daughter, Cara Bianchi (17), and Kenny’s daughters, Samantha Davis (13) and Kaitlyn Davis (12). Kenny owns and operates a motorcycle shop, and parks his personal collection of vehicles at home — including 17 choppers, 4 trucks, 2 cars, 2 four-wheelers and a sailboat — many of which have spilled over to the front yard, where they are irritatingly visible to his neighbors. The inside of the Davis house reflects Kenny’s laid-back approach to life-heavy on freedom and spontaneity, light on structure and cleaning. And though hard-living Kenny recently had a heart attack, the family’s diet still consists of a lot of red meat and junk food. Kenny’s idea of saving the planet is viewing it in passing from the seat of his motorcycle. Sandy frequently goes along for the ride.
In the first week of the swap, Zev is forced to put aside his spiritual approach to life and get in touch with his inner grease-monkey as he works in Kenny’s motorcycle shop and consumes his share of junk food. Meanwhile, easygoing Kenny is taken aback by Neshama’s rigid ways, and finds the world of yoga and organics putrid and punitive. But in week two of the swap, the husbands change the rules and turn the tables, and Zev takes on Sandy and the girls about their refusal to embrace bicycling and recycling, while they lash out at him about his refusal to embrace deodorant. And when Kenny confronts uptight Neshama and makes her give up her nap for a waitress job in a biker bar where she has to wear leather, Neshama is more surprised than anyone at the outcome. At the end of this ground-breaking swap, when the men are reunited with the women, there are accusations, but there are also lasting changes.
"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 ("Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"). Wendy Roth is the co-executive producer.