April 09, 2006 11:01 PM by Joe Blackmon
This week in "West/Grimes," a mom who requires squeaky-clean excellence from her family in her immaculate and tightly-run household swaps places with an easygoing, unorganized mother who puts friendship with her children above chores and consequences, on "Wife Swap," MONDAY,
APRIL 10 (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 just what it’s like to live another woman’s life. It’s a mind-blowing experiment that often ends up changing their lives forever.
Californians Lori Grimes (46) and her husband, Doug (47), are intent on training their teenage children, Miles and Ragan, to be impeccable family members and corporate citizens. Lori’s "first time obedience rule" allows no flexibility when she gives direction. Describing herself as strict but loving, this school and church play choreographer and stay-at-home mom orchestrates her clan with an iron fist. Husband Doug, a former military man, also expects the utmost precision and conservative moral values – so much so that daughter Ragan (13) studies traditional Irish dancing because the family believes it is the least "suggestive" style. Her brother, Miles (16), has no time to spare, what with practicing piano and banjo, studying, doing chores and joining in the family sing-alongs.
South Carolinian Tracy West’s (42) far more casual and open minded parenting style is reflected in the actions and perspectives of her husband, Michael (52), and children Alaina (20), Alex (18) and Katie (11). The two older children frequently break their midnight curfews, chores aren’t done and no topic of discussion is out of bounds. Tracy is otherwise occupied with her job at a radio station and her obsession with the online horror-literature world. Her husband, Michael, does most of the cleaning and all of the cooking — sometimes making up to four separate dinners for the family, which they eat separately. Michael believes the happiness of his wife and children are paramount. Tracy sees herself as the cool mom, who’s loved by her family and her children’s friends.
During the first week, Lori dislikes the unstructured and chaotic environment where the West kids rule the roost and are free to what they want, when they want. The family all struggles with Lori’s rigidity and high moral judgments, and don’t understand why she can’t just relax. Lori sees Mike as being burdened by all of the household chores that fall on him and wonders if his family appreciates him at all. Meanwhile in California, Tracy finds herself in "Pleasantville," where all family activities are planned months in advance in a calendar they call the "Family Brain." The Grimes kids have been trained in excellence and must do everything with a "happy heart." Tracy puts her best foot forward with church theatre production, cake baking and sing-alongs, but cannot keep up the Grimes’ smiles.
In the second week, when the tables are turned and the wives change the rules, Lori introduces structure and family time, and the kids must learn to show their father a new respect by helping to clean the house and prepare and serve him meals. Lori launches the concepts of training for excellence and
following through by introducing guitar lessons and a rigid practice schedule to their son, Alex. In the Grimes house, Tracy throws down the gauntlet by burning the "Family Brain," sending Miles into turmoil. She announces the end of all rules and obligations, encouraging the kids to open up and try stuff that they choose for themselves. The kids must also come up with rules for their father, who is mandated to cook for their mom upon her arrival home.
At the end of the swap, when the couples are reunited, will they find common groud, or will they 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, Jenny Crowther, Wendy Roth of RDF Media ("Faking It" and "Junkyard Wars") and Michael Davies of Embasy Row ("Who Wants to be a Millionaire"). Stef Wagstaffe and Stephanie Schwam are the co-executive producers.