April 30, 2008 08:54 PM by Jennifer_Brown
Reality fans, start your engines! Tonight’s Wife Swap swaps drag-racin’ mama, Stephanie Sundstrom with supercleaner Joy Tower.
Stephanie Sundstrom is all about hitting the road. For Stephanie, her husband Chuck, and their four children, drag racing is the #1 priority. There’s no time to worry about housekeeping when there’s a car to be raced, and the Sundstrom house shows it. The family keeps their clean clothes on a pool table rather than in their closets and drawers, and it’s been a while since the place was really given a good scrubbing. But Stephanie doesn’t care. Nor does she care about the neighbors who continually call the police to complain about her race car’s noisy engine, or care about disciplining her kids. Going into “parenting mode,” claims Stephanie, makes her “feel old.”
Joy Tower is an upper-middle class mom, schooled in cocktail parties and heavy-duty cleaning. She and her husband Paul expect cleanliness and respect out of their children, and make dining a five-star experience right there at home every night. Joy gets a ton ofÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â¬”ahem!ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â¬”joy out of cleaning (insert rim shot here), to the point where she cleans her granite countertops to a shine a couple times a day.
Joy and Stephanie swap places and it’s not long before the tears are flowing. Joy is instructed by the family to empty her suitcase onto the pool table, along with all the other clothes. “This is mental!” she cries when, frustrated, she can’t find her clean and pressed clothing. Joy also fails to find the fun in the loud exhaust of Stephanie’s racing car and calls the noise “inconsiderate” to the neighbors. She’s also less than impressed with the children’s lack of table manners at dinner and breaks down into tears again when the rowdy boys won’t listen to her while wrestling in the living room. “Stephanie and Chuck should be ashamed of themselves,” she cries. While Joy is able to enjoy a bit of drag racing with Chuck, another showdown between Joy and the man of the house regarding cleanliness leads to Joy calling the Sundstrom house a “crap hole,” and charging that the family is “totally, exactly a white trash family.”
Meanwhile, at the Tower house, Stephanie is cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, trying to keep up with the rigors of Joy’s high housekeeping expectations. While Stephanie is surprised, during the hosting of a cocktail party, to find that Joy’s friends are not snooty and judgmental as she’d thought they would be, she is saddened when the kids complain that Joy needn’t prepare such fancy dinners for them all the time. Stephanie makes an effort to stick up for Joy, but the kids are insistent that Joy puts too much effort into pleasing them. Stephanie turns to Paul and he, too, agrees that Joy does too much cleaning. Stephanie’s ticked that nobody in the family will stick up for Joy.
After a week of living like the other mom, each mom changes the rules on her new family. “Drag racing has dragged you down!” Joy tells the Sundstroms. Joy’s life is “miserably lonely and soul-destroying” to Stephanie, and she lets the Towers know it.
The first change in the Sundstrom house is a clearing of the pool table, which the whole family helps out with. Next, Joy cleans the house, creating a formal dining room for the Sundstroms. When daughter Lindsey calls Joy’s efforts “pointless” and “a waste of time,” Joy turns to Chuck for backup. When he doesn’t give it to her, she sends him to hands and knees to clean the floor and see what she’s gone through. The family then gets a dose of etiquette training, which insults Lindsey, and then the kids get cleaned up, dressed up, and patrol the neighborhood handing out invitations to a cocktail par-tay at the Sundstrom house. Joy gets a real eye-opener when she watches the kids have some fun with housecleaning, and Chuck gets an eye-opener when he discovers some new people in the neighborhood who’re pretty cool people.
First up on Stephanie’s rule change list is to implement the clothes-table rule to the Tower family, which they heartily dislike. She allows the children to decorate their own rooms, which they love, and turn the formal dining room into a game room, which they also love, until Dad comes home, that is. Once the kids see that Dad doesn’t love the game room, they won’t back up Stephanie, which makes her mad. She then gathers up the family and takes them out for Pit Crew training, but is disheartened when they’re not excited enough for her taste. She tries to “discipline” Paul by making him get on a tricycle and ride a lap, but he won’t do it. “I’m not gonna be humiliated,” he says. “It’s not an option.” Later, Stephanie sits the family down for an art project, making a collage about Joy so they can discover her as a person rather than just as a mom. Using stories from Joy’s sister, the family creates a Mom Collage that makes everyone happy. Later, Stephanie takes the Towers for some go-kart drag racing and everyone has a great time. Paul even agrees to get on a tricycle and give it a go!
The couples reunite with their real spouses. Right away, Joy lets go on Stephanie about the cleanliness issues in her house. Steph fires back by calling Joy’s house “cold and lonely.” Surprisingly, Paul backs up Stephanie, telling Joy that the Tower house doesn’t feel homey. This starts the first spat between Joy and Paul. When Stephanie worsens things by telling Joy that Paul had “thrown her under the bus” about cleaning too much, Joy threatens to never clean again, and the two go verbal sparring once again. It’s too much emotion for Joy to keep inside. “From your life that I lived I took nothing,” she says to Stephanie, but then later cries over the way she judged the Sundstrom family before she knew them. “I learned that life is gonna pass me by if I don’t have fun,” she says. In the end, both she and Paul are in tears.
Since the Swap, the Sundstrom kids do more picking up after themselves. They hang with the neighbors more often and “the pool table is no longer for clothes.” Joy Tower reports that she’s more relaxed, especially when it comes to cleaning. “I learned to stop and smell the roses, not dust the roses,” she says.
Photo Courtesy: ABC