October 17, 2008 08:23 PM by Lisa Stauber
Wife Swap features Maine lobstermen who live in a log cabin and never go shopping. The West Coast Thompson’s spent hundreds a week buying clothes and getting plastic surgery. “Remember to look good, always!” Michelle Thompson says as she leaves. Meanwhile, Barbara Kinsman chops more wood.
“We’re a lobstering family and we all work together,” Kinsman says. They live a simple life with their 13 year old daughter. Their house is heated by a wood stove and they line dry their clothes. For fun, they go dumpster diving. Kinsman doesn’t think Casey should watch TV, so they sign her up for sports. She’s embarrassed by her parents, though, and doesn’t want her friends to see them.
Michelle Thompson’s worst nightmare is getting too fat to fit in her fabulous clothes. She’s a shopaholic California girl, and they’ve spent $80,000 on plastic surgery and go out to eat often. “If someone doesn’t like me, it’s usually because they’re fat and ugly,” she says. The kids have no chores or responsibilities and get whatever they want, whenever they want. Husband Carey isn’t very involved as a dad, especially with his stepson, Brandon.
Meeting the Families
Michelle is a little shell shocked to see it’s a log cabin. “Omigod! It smells like sweat!” Michelle says. “I’d be stupid to live in this hell hole.” Michelle gets emotional when she reads about Captain Bob and Casey struggling with their stepparent relationship. It reminds of her husband and son.
Barbara notices that her family loves to groom. She compliments the cleanliness of the house, which is so close to everyone else. She reads about Michelle’s boob jobs and shopping sprees. “Wow, that’s a lot of money going out the door,” she says. She’s ready to meet the family, and Carey is judgemental. “She’s a big woman. I don’t know where her breasts end,” he says.
Captain Bob is loving his new pretty wife. “I could get off on this!” he says. Meanwhile, Michelle is serving up pizza for dinner. Barbara claims she could make the pizza for $5, but Carey doesn’t think dropping $40 on it is a big deal. Michelle thinks it’s horrible that Casey has to gather wood, and Barbara thinks it’s awful that the Thompson’s put their kids to sleep in the living room, in front of the TV.
Michelle’s not allowed to spend her usual 90 minutes primping. “This is the most hideous outfit I’ve ever worn,” she says. She’s shocked that Casey doesn’t have new clothes. “I think Michelle’s way more modern than my parents,” Casey says. Barbara has to spend an hour and half primping, and then is required to shop online. She goes through the closet with a calculator, and adds up what is spent just on clothes with the tags still on. It comes to $11,000.00 – and not an extracurricular activity in sight!
Barbara confronts Carey. “I see that those children are not a priority,” she tells him. He’s insulted, and decides to prove her wrong by taking the kids shopping. He jumps all over Barbara over every comment she makes. “What I see here is a bribe,” she says. Carey’s buying the kids off. Barbara tries to talk about discipline and Carey loses his temper. “Enough already!”
Michelle is out lobstering, and she tells Captain Bob that it’s more like a hobby. Bob’s pants are full of holes, but he goes to Casey’s game anyway. Michelle has a heart to heart with Casey. “Looks are important!” she tells her, and thinks the lack of new clothes and highlighted hair are causing self-esteem problems. She helps out with the chores, and decides that Casey’s had enough chores. Casey’s worried about Captain Bob’s temper. “I’m not gonna be bossed around by some cranky old fisherman.”
Bob has to avoid the see and stop fishing for the week. He’s going to work on building his relationship with Casey. Michelle’s going to take her on a shopping spree and throwing her a party with a stretch limo. Casey’s not sure that she can handle the limo, yet, thinking it’s too extravagant. Michelle starts crying. “I don’t do a lot of things that go outside my comfort zone,” Casey tries to explain.
Barbara calls the kids spoiled brats and announces that they are moving into a log cabin. She halts pizza, eating out, and internet. She’s going to cook everything from scatch and pick through trash for new stuff. The worst rule change? The kids must sleep in their beds, not on the living room couch in front of the TV. Brandon isn’t used to discipline, and it doesn’t go well. “I don’t want Brandon to hate me,” he says.
Casey’s loving her shopping spree, and thinks everyone’s going to like her now that she has nice clothes. She reveals her makeover to Bob, and he barely says a word. Michelle’s mad. “What is his problem?” Michelle asks. “Why are you afraid that she wants to make herself pretty on the outside.” Bob’s worried Michelle’s going to make Casey into a shallow teen. Casey tries to open up to Bob, telling him he intimidates her. “Okay, cool,” Bob says. “I’ll bear that in mind.” It was an underwhelming emotional moment. Michelle confronts him. “Do you genuinely love her?” she asks. “I dunno,” Bob says.
The Thompson’s don’t know what to do without the television. Barbara tries to encourage Carey to get them involved with books and puzzles, and Carey thinks that’s a joke. Now it’s time to dumpster dive, but that’s too much for Carey. He grabs his children and leaves, so Barbara tried to teach him how to use a clothesline. Carey thinks the clothes are going to get dusty on the line and that it’ll be disgusting and unsanitary. “It’s sad that she can’t afford to dry her clothes,” he says. She’s trying to cook things from scratch, but the kids are refusing to eat and wasting food. “They’re controlling you,” she says. Carey takes off.
Michelle takes the Kinsmans skating, but Bob won’t participate. Barbara makes the kids participate in an afterschool activity, ballet and karate, and Carey thinks it’s awesome. “Definitely more fun that sitting in front of the TV,” he says. He loves the time they spend at the log cabin, too. He likes Barbara’s lifestyle that includes so much family time.
Michelle tells Barbara that she was uncomfortable in her clothes. “I think it’s sad that you don’t put any effort into your appearance,” Michelle says. Barbara calls her out on spending thousands on surgery and clothes. Michelle tells Barbara that Casey is too afraid to speak her mind and is closed up. “He’s not her friend,” Barbara says. “He’s an authority figure.” She says Michelle’s kids are out of control and undisciplined. Carey does say that getting involved with the kids was a good change. “It was positive. It worked.” Barbara wants Casey to be less of a tomboy and more confident, and she’s glad that Michelle bought her a dress and gave her a makeover. The families part and seem to be friends.
Photos courtesy ABC.