October 03, 2008 07:45 PM by Lisa Stauber
Wife Swap premieres tonight, and we’re treated to another set of extremes. Colorado mom Mayumi Heene loves storms and is a tornado chaser, even taking the kids out of school whenever one blows in. Martell lives in Connecticut, and is known for playing it safe. Dad Jay Martell owns a safety company, and his kids are scared to death of everything – even the microwave. They’ll swap lives for two weeks. Can Martell take living on the edge, or will Heene die of boredom?
Mayumi has her kids sleep in their clothes so they’ll be ready to chase a storm at a moment’s notice. Her husband, Richard Heene, takes measurements from inside the storm by driving a motorcycle into the twister and launching rockets. They communicate by bullhorn. Mayumi takes care of the home, raises the children, and provides all of the technical support and equipment repairs while Richard concentrates on his research. They have three sons, 8 year old Bradford, 7 year old Ryo, and 5 year old Falcon.
They make sure their kids have fun and lots of adventures, involving projectiles and motorbikes. They can go whereever they want as long as they take a walkie-talkie, and have no table manners. “I always try to be a friend to my kids,” Mayumi says.
Karin Martell wants their kids to be safe. She uses several types of sunscreen, won’t let them near the stairs, and forbids handheld video games in case they get distracted and run over. Max is 11 and Dean is 10, and they are super safe when they play. Jay is a professional babyproofer, and Karin makes sure breakfast is always calm so the boys will be serene. Jay helps out around the house, and so do the kids.
Meeting the New Families
It’s time for the swap, and Karin makes sure to pack an extra smoke detector, just in case. She’s a little shocked when she arrives at the Heene’s. “It’s not often you walk into a house and first thing you see are rockets and pictures of children with guns,” she says. She begins to detail every safety violation she sees, including knives, rocks, and batteries.
Mayumi doesn’t see any toys in her new home, and she races through the backyard. Jay calls her “Ninja Wife” because she is fast and furious in everything she does. Karin can’t believe that Richard calls his wife with a megaphone.
Mayumi doesn’t understand the baby gates and bars everywhere. “Kids need to be free,” she says. Richard thinks Karin is going to have “a very difficult time.” Mayumi is feeling trapped by all the rules, but Karin can’t believe the kids’ table manners. The kids burp and eat pocket change, and advise Karin not to sleep with their dad.
Mayumi has to make a serene and calm breakfast, and then help Jay babyproof a client’s home. He tries to explain every step. “I feel the cages are limiting for kids,” she says. “I feel you are putting fear.” Meanwhile, Karin has to check the weather and then wake, feed, and dress everybody in the house. “I have four kids,” she says, because Richard can’t even get his own pants. He plays with his friends and Karin is appalled. “Grown men like a younger woman because of that,” Richard says. “Once a woman hits 25, it’s downhill from there.” Richard’s in denial. “I think she likes me,” he says.
Mayumi has to supervise the boys playing, and make sure they’re safe at all times. “Watch out for pebbles,” Jay says. “Max and Dean have too much fear for their age,” Mayumi says. “That scares me.” Meanwhile, there’s a storm watch and the Heene’s load up. Karin and Richard have another fight, and he thinks she’s a nag for telling him to be more organized.
Mayumi decides to go to the woods, to see what is so scary. “This is the perfect place for them to play!” she says. Richard and Karin are still at each other’s throat. Richard loses controls, yelling, screaming, and playing the harmonica. “I’ve never been treated like that before,” Karin says, as she tears up.
“Richard is psycho,” Karin says, and gets ready to lay down some new rules. Storm chasing is banned. Bradford, the kid, lets out a four letter word. “Richard, you will take full responsibility for the domestic duties,” Karin says. No burping, no farting, and he’ll have to babyproof the house, too.
Mayumi decides to make the kids live a life of fun, not fear. “You are going to play in the woods,” she says. She’s really letting loose, and is going to allow the boys to go to the top of the hill to ride their bikes down. The word “No” is banned, or Dad will have to go in the cage. Max and Dean also have to play with their toys and leave them out, so everyone will know that kids live there.
“I really hate the new mom,” Falcon says, when Karin gives him some pajamas. Richard freaks out about having the house made safe. Richard doesn’t bother to make lunch, so the kids have to fend for themselves. He makes Karin a bitchmeter out of a paper plate.
Mayumi fakes a stormchasing adventure, letting the kids launch rockets. She’s mad that all Jay talked about was safety, quizzing the pros about their credentials. Meanwhile, Karin is making Richard wash the dishes. “I’ll shoot myself,” he says. Richard decides to leave. “You’re a man’s nightmare. I’m so glad my wife was born in Japan,” he says as he grabs the five year old and takes off. “Nag, nag, nag. Over 25 years old, sag! You sag!”
Mayumi tries a different tactic, making a movie with the kids to explain to their dad everything they are afraid of. “I have to do something,” she says.
Coming to terms
Karin calls in one of Richard’s friends and colleagues, a woman. “I’m hoping I’ll be able to move forward,” Karin says. The colleague also tells him that he doesn’t listen to women. “You hurt me personally as a female,” she says. “It’s my house! Leave!” Some friend he is!
The Heene boys help out picking up, and then Karin starts to teach them table manners. “I can’t believe he’s wiping the table! I didn’t even ask him to do that,” Karin says about Ryo. Richard realizes that if he drops his ego, the family will benefit. He’s finally realized what a burden Mayumi has been shouldering.
Mayumi shows Jay the video of the kids telling all of their fears. “I liked it!” he says. “I think you’re living in a fantasy.” He thinks Mayumi is wrong, and that his boys aren’t scaredy cats. The boys go into the woods to play, and Jay follows so they’ll be supervised by an adult. “Tell dad not to be worried,” Dean says over the walkie-talkie. “I’m not really scared of walking into the woods anymore.” Jay is realizing the kids are growing up. “I can’t keep them in a bubble.”
Karin baby proofs the house, and she buys helmets for the kids. Richard’s mad. “I’m pissed! I am a good father!” he says, after she brings in some safety gear. Karin decides to stay at a hotel. Meanwhile, Mayumi has made a “tornado” from a giant fan and they have a practice storm chasing run. “Thank you, Mayumi,” Jay says.
“You are adults, and you need to set a good example for the family,” Karin says. “Richard is really the youngest member of the family.” Karin’s mad that there has been no apology for all of the yelling a screaming.
“We are enjoying the kids being kids,” Mayumi says. “I think the top of the hill is fine,” Jay agrees. “Sometimes you have to let go,” Karin says. Mayumi has learned a valuable lesson – kids can pitch in!
Richard has written Karin a song. “I want to tell you…how much you mean to me.” He sings a capella, and Karin is touched, especially after the rough week they had together. The couples part on good terms, and then go home to their children.
A week later, the Martells continue to encourage the kids to takes some risks. The boys are exploring the woods and riding down the hill. The Heene boys are learning to do chores, and Richard’s cooking. “Wife Swap opened my mind a lot,” Mayumi says.
Reality TV Magazine is your source for WifeSwap news and information. Could you stand living with Richard? Tell us what you think on our message boards! For more on reality TV, check out SirlInksALot: RealityTV.
Photos courtesy ABC.