August 27, 2006 11:01 PM by Joe Blackmon
"Donahoe/Baker" — This week, a pampered, clothes-horse, Southern belle swaps lives with a working dairy farming mother of six on "Wife Swap" — the acclaimed, unscripted reality show that takes us into the intimate heart of the American family home, revealing the extraordinarily different ways they live — MONDAY, AUGUST 28 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on ABC.
Each week, from across the country, two families with very different values are chosen to take part in "Wife Swap." 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 a very different woman’s life. It’s a mind-blowing experiment that oftentimes ends up changing their lives forever.
Christie Baker is a 41-year-old Southern belle who believes she deserves the best in life, which her 51-year-old husband, Richard, delivers in true Southern gentleman style, serving her breakfast in bed and routinely cleaning the house. The Bakers reside in Tennessee, where their lives revolve around their three daughters: 17-year-old cheerleader twins Maurie and Margo, and 11-year-old Mary Jewels. The girls and Christie get everything they want. Christie takes two bubble baths a day and spoils her daughters with regular manicures, trips to the hair salon and tanning sessions. This is one mother who believes her kids should enjoy childhood to the fullest, without the burden of chores or jobs. Christie herself doesn’t do any — husband Richard does everything and works 60 hours a week as an engineer.
Christie is transplanted to rural upstate New York, home to the Donahoes, a dairy farming family with six children ranging in age from two to 16. The Donahoes are a hard-working, family centered clan in which everyone pitches in to get the job done. Audrey, 36, works in the barn and is responsible for all the household chores, including six loads of laundry each day and preparing a home-cooked meal every night. In addition to attending school, Audrey’s oldest children spend up to six hours daily working the 150 cows and caring for their younger siblings. Husband Jeff, 37, is the stalwart head of the household, rising at 4:30 a.m. every morning to milk the cows and run the dairy operation. The Donahoes believe in teaching their kids independence, responsibility and a strong work ethic.
In the first week of the swap, Christie is forced to forgo her creature comfort for… creatures, an endless line of smelly, mooing, cud-chewing cows, all needing to be milked before dawn in the less-than-fragrant barn. Meanwhile, Audrey is blown away by the pampered lifestyle she’s experiencing. But in the second week the wives turn the tables and change the rules, creating a roller coaster for all. Christie forbids the Donahoe children to work on the farm — burdening Jeff with an even heavier work load — while Audrey clamps down on the Baker girls, insisting they drink milk, do chores and help their father. One husband melts down about missing his wife, and one wife is brought to tears by the other’s harsh criticism of the way she lives and raises her family. Lessons are learned but resentment lingers.
"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 and Michael Davies of Diplomatic. Wendy Roth is the co-executive producer. "Wife Swap" is broadcast with Spanish subtitles via secondary closed captioning. This program carries a TV-PG parental guideline.