AN OVERACHIEVING UPPER-CLASS WIFE SWAPS LIVES WITH
A CAREFREE CARNIVAL WIFE, ON ABC'S "WIFE SWAP"
This week on "Gillette/ Turner," a meticulous, structured wife who raises her kids to be the best and brightest swaps lives with a laid-back mom who lets her kids run wild in the traveling carnival she owns and operates with her husband, on "Wife Swap," WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Rebroadcast. OAD 3/26/08)
Each week from across the country, two families with very different values are chosen to take part in a two-week long challenge. The wives from these two families exchange husbands, children and lives (but not bedrooms) to discover just what it's like to live another woman's life. It's a mind-blowing experiment that often ends up changing their lives forever.
Step right up and meet the Gillette family of Massachusetts, where wife Christina (36), husband Arthur (41) and their children, Jane (10), Libby (8) and Kenny (4), run a traveling carnival. They're on the road eight months a year; the carnival is the family's backyard, where they come and go as they please. While Christina and Arthur work day and night, they let their kids run free with no structure and no rules. They may be in the same geographical location, but the kids feel like they hardly ever get to spend time with their father because he's always working. Christina is busy home-schooling the children and doing all of the business paperwork. For meals, she relies on microwave meals and junk food because it's quick. The kids have free-range of all the food stalls in the carnival, so they fill up on candy apples, funnel cakes and cotton candy whenever they feel hungry. The family has never known any other life and they feel it's in their blood. Both Christina and Art believe that letting their kids run free across the carnival to meet new people and leaving them to monitor their own behavior is giving them a good foundation for adulthood. The Gillettes want their children to be happy and to enjoy every minute of their childhood.
Christina has to give up cotton candy and roller coasters to swap lives with uptight mom Karen Turner (44), who lives in a spacious and meticulously kept home in an upscale neighborhood in New York with her husband, Tom (45), and daughters Paige (14) and Grace (11). The family strive to be the best and work hard to succeed. Karen and Tom feel it is their responsibility to mold Paige and Grace into productive, high-achieving members of society. Karen likes every waking minute to be productive. She doesn't even let her husband watch sports on TV, saying it's a waste of time. Paige complains of feeling exhausted at the end of her packed days � at school, rowing for two hours, and then homework and chores. Grace practices dance five hours a day every day, on top of being an excellent student. To the Turners, education is a mark of status and breeding. They believe in sticking to their own � which means traditional, conservative families with traditional, conservative values. Appearances mean everything to them.
In the first week of the swap, Karen is mortified to see the Gillette family's tight and cluttered trailer home and refuses to sleep there, opting for a hotel instead. Art's extreme laziness and his lack of parental involvement astound her. In New York, Christina is shocked by the regimen and amount of pressure that Karen and Tom put on their daughters, and finds their obsession with appearance extremely superficial.
In the second week of the swap, when the wives change the rules and turn the tables, there's no more roaming around the carnival, as Karen tells the Gillette family when to eat, when to sleep and what to wear. She puts the girls in public school and forces Art to spend more time with his children. Meanwhile, Christina forces Tom to do two hours of rowing a day so he can live in his daughters' regimented lives, and turns the backyard into a mini-carnival. She bans all schedules in the hopes that they can live in the moment and enjoy themselves. When she takes them to the carnival not for fun but rather to live in a trailer, the family feel they have to refuse.
At the end of the swap, when the couples are reunited, will Karen lighten up and let her kids be kids? Will Christina stop the merry-go-around, set her husband straight and add some structure to her children's lives?
"Wife Swap" is an RDF USA production. It was created by Stephen Lambert and is executive-produced by Stef Wagstaffe and Michael Davies of Embassy Row ("Who Wants to be a Millionaire"). Stephanie Schwam Adams, Mike Gamson and Mitchell Rosenbaum, and are the co-executive producers.
"Wife Swap" is broadcast with Spanish subtitles via secondary closed captioning. This program carries a TV-PG parental guideline.