Wife Swap: The Report


So, I watched last night’s episode of Wife Swap (jeez, the things I do for you people!) and I’ll be darned: it was actually a pretty even-handed, non-exploitative show. Well, as much as one named Wife Swap can be, I guess.

For one, no one person was made out to be the kook. Even the raw foodist’s desire to “eat sun” was handled with delicate humor (in the funniest moment, one of the little boys declares privately to the camera, “She eats sun. That’s creepy.”). The vegan family’s daughter stood up for her beliefs and refused to eat or buy meat and the hunting family’s husband even saw how a more gentle approach to child rearing can work with more hyper, violent kids.

The most important lesson, though, was the one that the vegan/raw foodist mother learned from the hunting father: one person can’t carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. Animal rights activists have a high rate of burnout and this is exactly why. It’s easy to become discouraged with the unending suffering that seems impossible to stop, and if we let that overtake us, we just end up as miserable grouches who either can’t get anyone to listen to us or who completely give up activism, seeing it as a lost cause. We’ve got to take time for ourselves and enjoy life. In the end, everyone benefits.

The only real frustrating point of the show came when the hunting mother (who was the only person on the whole show who didn’t seem to change at all) had a showdown with the vegan father and daughter. It was an unfortunate argument where the mother claimed that AR activists were trying to vilify her and her family because they need to hunt for food to survive. This could have been easily diffused by explaining that the majority of AR people focus their attention on “sport” hunters and not the few that actually need to (and do) hunt for their food. Of course, by the end of the episode, she was out hunting in what looked more like a sporting manner than one to supply needed food for the family.

All-in-all, it was a well handled episode that–though it lacked the sizzle of the God Warrior on Trading Spouses–showed two families learning something from each other and being (relatively) respectful of the other’s beliefs.

There’s something wrong with the world when I’m criticizing 60 Minutes for being uneven and praising Wife Swap for their fairness.

9 Responses to “Wife Swap: The Report”

  1. Karen

    Yet another reason I haven’t watched TV in years…

  2. Eric


    Well put: “There’s something wrong with the world when I’m criticizing 60 Minutes for being uneven and praising Wife Swap for their fairness.”

  3. Sally Kneidel, co-author of Veggie Revolution

    I watched that Wife Swap episode too. I think it’s a fascinating show. It’s like an anthropological study in the range of “normal” behavior in American families. I find the variety of family rules and expectations amazing.

    Anyway I agree that it was too bad the mother of the meat-eaters acted like they were forced to hunt, when really I think it was all pleasure. Another thing that bothered me about it was that the father of the meat-eaters kept saying that humans are carnivores and humans have to eat meat to get a balanced diet, and no one ever corrected him! I hate it that the American public was hearing that over and over, when most people already believe it. And yet, it is so false. That was painful to watch. Surely the raw foods mom must have made a pitch for vegan nutrition, and the producers must have cut that out.

  4. silvana

    Really, one person can`t carry the weight of the wold on the shoulders.

  5. silvana

    Really, one person can`t carry the weight of the wold on the shoulders.

  6. Luci

    i wouldn’t do that for all the money in the world!

  7. Elm City Vegan

    Didn’t you love the part where the hunting mom says she was, “defending America”? That was so priceless. On another note, I think the show did a lot for the pro-veg side just by the contrast between the “Lord of the Flies,” hyperactive and obviously mentally deficient meat-eating kids and the beautiful, loving vegan kid. Great show–I watch it whenever I can.

  8. buddy

    This episode was another reason Christians have a bad name in other countries. The pass program she was
    on she was holier than thou, now her true colors come thru/

  9. Tony

    I saw a preview for the Wife Swap episode for Wednesday, May 14, 2008 and I think they will have another vegetarian family on the show.

    Wed May 14 8/7c
    A wife who dotes on her gas-guzzling husband swaps lives with an eco-friendly artist who makes her kids ride bikes in the Arizona heat in order to save the planet.

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