Drug of the Nation: Celebrity Wife Swap

television If I took a moment to think about the TV offerings this winter season, I might say something like “oh the return of 30 Rock will be delightful” or “sweet Jesus what is this Chelsea Handler garbage? Countdown to cancelation in 5…4…3…” but this year there was something extra special for me to get excited about: CELEBRITY WIFE SWAP!!!!!

Oh hell yes!

It is with complete sincerity that I say I was totally excited about this latest way to give Flava Flav money for being pointless. Also: who in their right mind married Flava Flav? I watched Flavor of Love, I know he’s insufferable.

You see, I always had a soft spot for Wife Swap. It’s just so dumb and the people are largely terrible and frankly, it made me feel superior for not having awful children and a jackass husband. It basically reaffirmed all of my life choices and wrapped me in a cozy blanket of smugness. That and it always seemed to be on at Stevenson’s when my adopted baby sister and I would go for burgers.

What appeals to me about the original Wife Swap is that it’s a glorious mirror held up to the ridiculous “real America” propaganda that keeps the “country of our forefathers” bus on the road. These are cringe-worthy families selling themselves out for a minute of fame and they all look like tools. This is the “real America” that has to be protected from change? Really?

I’ll be over here enjoying my schadenfreude pie, thanks.

Now, if there is one thing that networks know, it’s that if a show works with normal people it will be extra awesome popular with Celebrities. The temptation to watch famous people demonstrate poor parenting skills has got to equal ratings gold, right? You just need the right mix of dysfunction and intrigue. So who did ABC pull together?

This is fame?

* TRACEY GOLD, actress, formerly of “Growing Pains,” and CARNIE WILSON, singer/actress/TV host.

* GARY BUSEY, Academy Award-nominated actor for “The Buddy Holly Story” and TED HAGGARD, Evangelical pastor.

* FLAVOR FLAV, world renowned rapper, and DEE SNIDER, rock star.

* NIECY NASH, actress/comedienne, and TINA YOTHERS, rocker and actress, formerly of “Family Ties.”

* MICK FOLEY, professional wrestler/writer, and ANTONIO SABATO JR., actor/model.

MICK FOLEY? WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! You are too good for these kind of shenanigans sir.

But the rest of them? Well…we all know “celebrity” is a really loose term right?

How many people on this list are even appealing? I mean sure, you’ve got your Busey and your Flav for the wacky component, your Ted Haggard for a little scandal and Tina Yothers and Antonio Sabato Jr.because…well what else did they have going on. Where is the draw?

Unfortunately, the glory days of “celebrity” reality shows are far behind us. Ever since talent decided that getting on Dancing with the Stars was a valid career move you just don’t get the raw stupidity of a Surreal Life or Rock of Love. Instead of the deepest pit of shame, reality TV is now some sort of ladder rung back to relevancy. Do you know what that means? It’s become boring, so fucking boring.

You can imagine my sadness last night when I tuned in expecting some awesome Busey antics or some forehead bashing Ted Haggard offensiveness to be greeted with what? Busey and his fiancée seem like they are really happy and Ted Haggard’s kids harbor a lot of resentment towards their father who, in turn, keeps up the creepiest smile I’ve ever seen. What? That’s it? I mean Busey did say something like “if you find yourself surrounded by golden balls, those are angels” which totally made me snort but the whole premise just fell flat.

There was no exciting voyeurism because these people are just people. There is no tantalizing fame anymore because there is no mystery. I think that is the great failing of the reality TV machine, sure other people’s lives seem so much more interesting than yours until you realize that they still have to make breakfast and clean the bathroom just like you. There is no glamour in scrubbing a toilet my friend, be it literal or metaphorical. Honestly, I was disappointed at the lack of spectacle but at the same time I felt like maybe Celebrity Wife Swap is going to be the beginning of the end of this brand of reality TV. The genre has gained self-awareness and lost all of its fun. Maybe, just maybe, networks will go back to producing real television shows again, with real compelling stories where we can lose ourselves in a fantasy world that is far more interesting than real life.


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About Sarah Kunchik

Sarah's favorite things include Bowie, bourbon and bacon. She has an irrational hatred of El Caminos and a completely rational hatred of mayonnaise.