Move one step at a time
This week in "Haigwood/Hess-Webb," a woman who feels most comfortable in a stained pair of overalls and whose family barely interacts with mainstream society swaps lives with a family who put style before substance, on "Wife Swap," MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
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.
To Iowa farm-mom Barbara Haigwood (37), her husband, Michael, (39), and their two children, Lee (15) and Aleesha (13), a simple life is the best life. Living on a secluded farm with the nearest town 45 minutes away, the family prides itself on a self-sustained existence where food is grown, harvested and killed on their property with minimal help from the outside world. The family lives by a raw food philosophy that includes raw beef and chicken, spoiled cheese and un-pasteurized milk. They brush their teeth with a mixture of home made honey-butter and clay and only shower on occasion, as "bacteria is their friend." Barbara bucks at the pressure she feels society puts on people to become prepackaged clones and tries to keep most forms of "mainstream" culture out of her household. She "unschools" her kids using farm chores as the classroom – if you call counting eggs a math class.
Barbara travels to the California home of the Hess-Webbs, where Kim (32), her husband, Robert, (31), and their two kids, Ivy (6) and Breslin (4), have deemed that a perfect appearance, proper education and a cultured life is the best recipe for success. Fashion conscious Kim is an entrepreneur who is building her own personal assistant business to help busy women like herself run errands and keep up with the latest styles. Robert works as a male nurse and moonlights as a fashion stylist, but dreams of being the next great fashion designer and dressing Oprah herself. Meanwhile their two small children, Ivy and Breslin, are exposed to all of their city’s cultural activities, but would rather spend more time with their busy dad.
In the first week of the swap, Barbara is forced to endure being made over by Robert, as he finds her unfit to be seen with in public. And before heading out to the city for a night of fine dining, she must shave her legs for the first time in more than seven years. She is then obliged to sanitize the apartment up to Robert’s impeccable standards, using chemically laced products she fears will eventually kill them all. Meanwhile, Kim is in for the shock of her life when she meets the Haigwoods, who think nothing of popping raw eggs as snacks and setting their alarms for 2:00 a.m. to wake up for their scheduled raw food feeding. By the second day, Kim breaks down, sleeping in a trailer on the farm and only coming outside to milk the cows and perform her other farm chores – which she barely gets through.
In the second week of the swap, when the wives change the rules and turn the tables, Barbara tries to turn the Hess-Webbs on to a raw food diet and licks the kitchen floor to teach the family that germs are not to be feared. In an effort to show Robert that he’s too attached to appearances, she tries to box up and throw away his prized collection of designer duds, and he throws out her raw foods in retaliation. Meanwhile Kim makes the Haigwoods eat cooked food and takes them all to a doctor, but her plan backfires when he pronounces the family healthy. In defiance, Mike chases her out of the house with a jar of rotting meat that he eats to "help him deal with his emotions."
At the end of the swap, when the families are reunited, will Barbara stop living the simple life and let the kids eat cooked food? Will Kimstop shopping for the latest fashions and spend more time with the kids?
"Wife Swap" is an RDF USA production. It was created by Stephen Lambert and is executive-produced by Wendy Roth and Stephen Lambert of RDF Media ("Faking It" and "Junkyard Wars") and Michael Davies of Embassy Row ("Who Wants to be a Millionaire"). Stephanie Schwam Adams, Cristin Cricco, and Mike Gamson are the co-executive producers.
"Wife Swap" is broadcast with Spanish subtitles via secondary closed captioning. A TV parental guideline will be assigned closer to airdate.