February 13, 2009 09:04 PM by Lisa Stauber
ABC‘s Wife Swap features another odd couple tonight. The Linkins live in Virginia, and love fantasy. Grace Linkins spends her days dressing up as elves or queens, or playing online for hours, even though she’s past 50. The Bonetts, from Florida, are ambitious and are driven to build a real estate empire.
Grace Linkins loves LARPing – Live Action Role Playing. Husband George runs the family cleaning business when he’s not napping. The couple’s two sons, Casey and Randy, take advantage of their laid back parents. Casey dropped out of college and hasn’t found full time work, and 12 year old Randy wants to do more but his parents tell him not to bother doing hard things, like joining the football team or starting martial arts training. “I wanted to try out for wrestling, but my mom says I’m too weak,” he says. Grace does take on the challenge of making elf costumes for her family, and is taking her rubber elf ears with her on the Swap.
The Bonett family couldn’t be more different, of course. Prebble Bonett and her husband Warren listen and apply motivational techniques in their everyday life. They never stop working, and will disinherit the kids, Wyndham and Celia, if they don’t finish college. Warren lives with his laptop. “We like to accomplish things,” Prebbles says. “A lazy person is wasting their lives,” Warren adds.
Meet the New Families
Prebble thinks the Linkins have no pride. “I could not sell this house the way it is,” she says. “To me, this is very redneck.” She didn’t know anyone dressed up as dwarves, let alone adults. The only rules in the Linkins household is that everyone must wear a shirt to the dinner table and George has to put his teeth in before he leaves the house.
Grace is impressed with the Bonett’s home. “It’s beautiful!” she says. She realizes that her new family might be a little too uptight when she reads the Manual, which states that Prebble gives 110%. “That’s her problem! She doesn’t know math,” Grace says. “There is no 110%!”
Prebble will have to play along with the LARPing, and has to log on to role playing websites and pretend to be Grace. “This house is stagnant,” she says. “It’s so depressing.” The next day, she has to play on the computer again, while George naps and the house remains messy. “This house is neglected,” she tells George. “I think she’s trying to rock the boat,” George says.
Grace says she works 2 1/2 hours a day, and then plays video games. Warren tries to coach her along in the kitchen. “I’ve never seen anybody make salad slower,” he says. The next day, Grace has to make coffee while Warren hops on his trampoline. He shoots off a rapid fire to-do list, but everything Grace does is slow and slower. “He needs to relax a little bit,” Grace says.
Prebble has to dress up like a queen and do some live action role playing. It’s all going well until some pirates show up. “I think it’s a complete waste of time,” she says. She’s mad to learn that Randy isn’t allowed to join activities. It makes her cry to think of the way George is stifling his son’s ambitions. Casey, age 19, has no ambition at all. He has no plans for the next 10 years.
Grace has to run an open house in Prebble’s place, and she’s not having any fun. She used to be a real estate agent and sold over $1 million dollars worth of real estate before quitting to spend time with her family. George thinks she’s just lazy. Warren is even checking his Blackberry while they have grocery shopping family time. Celia, age 13, can’t even name any family activities that the Bonetts do.
Casey can’t be bothered to show up to the Rules Change ceremony. Prebble wants George and Randy to start the day with a jump on the trampoline. “Cleaners should live in a clean home,” she tells George. “No. I clean all night and I don’t want to come home and clean,” he says. Randy is going to start a business, so he can learn how to earn a dollar. George also has to encourage his son to do what he would like, and also motivate Casey to get a start with his career.
Grace decides it’s time for adventure. Warren is supposed to turn over his phone and laptop when he comes home from work, but he refuses. “I’m bringing the world of fantasy to you,” she says, “so think about what you want.” Grace can’t get Warren off the phone long enough to take it away. He says he has to communicate with it in order to get ahead.
The Linkins are put to work cleaning up the clutter, and Prebble is going to take away the costumes. George takes a nap, then decides he doesn’t care what Prebble does as long as she leaves him alone to sleep. The next morning, Prebble runs the juicer while the menfolk jump. “I’m getting annoyed,” George says. “It’s dumb.” Randy’s starting a business washing cars and mowing lawns, and he wants to make $50 so he can buy some toys and go to an amusement park. Next she talks Casey through a job interview.
The Bonetts are supposed to sleep in, but George can’t let daylight go to waste. He awakens Grace to get his computer, and heads out to the office. Grace coaches the kids in the art of battle with foam swords. “I wouldn’t say this was a fun experience,” Wyndham says. “It was fun, but it’s kinda weird,” Celia says. Grace tries an intervention with George’s workaholism. “You’ve got a problem,” she says. She feels he’s cheating because he won’t follow her rules or spend any time with the family.
Casey gets a haircut and goes on a job interview. It seems to go well, and it’s a step up from his current dishwashing job. George decides to help out Randy’s business, and teaches him how to mow the lawn. Prebble pays him a few dollars for doing the yard, and then George takes him to a karate lesson. “I’m feeling great that my new mom let me try martial arts,” he says.
Warren and Grace are not talking. Wyndham feels bad for her, and asks his father what he did to her. Later, Grace tries to have a heart to heart with Warren. She explains that her mom and dad died while she was still a teenager, and that’s why she wants Warren to make the most of the time he has with his kids. Warren agrees to think about what she said, and the kids have fun playing with Grace, too.
George and the boys make an effort to clean up, and Prebble brings back the LARPing costumes. “She’s a nice lady, and there’s going to be some changes when Grace gets back,” George says. Warren actually dresses up to play swords, while Grace directs the action. He manages to slay the dragon. “Grace’s ideas are fun,” he says.
The couples don’t agree on college. “He finished high school, and that’s all I ask of him,” George says. Prebble tells Grace she needs to work on preparing Randy for life.
After the swap, Grace moved the computer out of the bedroom and Casey had a second interview. She went from spending 90% on fantasy to about 25%. The Bonetts schedule family time, and even went to Medieval Times restaurant.