Obsessed with 'Wife Swap,' and not for reasons you might think

Molly Cavanaugh MOMAHA.COM

At the end of the day, after the kids are in bed, it's finally my turn to sit down and watch whatever I want on TV. And I have a guilty pleasure show I've recently started watching.

First, let me say I am a reluctant fan of reality TV programs. It has to do in no small part to the fact that there is little to nothing "real" about them. Sometimes it's celebrities allowing camera crews into their homes and their lives for a very tailored look into their fabulously styled lives. Those have never been my cup of tea. Sorry that I'm not sorry, Kim Kardashian and crew.

My reality show of choice usually involves ordinary people put in imaginary extreme situations where their unvarnished reactions make for great "gotcha" content.

Recently, one such show has captured my attention and I stumbled on it completely by accident. It's like the universe wantedme to see it. Here's how it happened.

A few Sundays ago, I settled in to watch the premiere of a new show on the Lifetime network called "American Princess." I'm not a frequent viewer of Lifetime, but some friends of mine work on the show and I was compelled to tune in and support. While "American Princess" has made me a faithful viewer, it was the show I stumbled across the next day — when the TV was still tuned in to the Lifetime Network — that has become my new DVR secret. It's called "Wife Swap."

You may think, "She must have been hanging out in a TV-free bunker," because "Wife Swap" isn't a new show. ABC wrapped production on the original series back in 2010. I remember seeing commercials for it and thinking, "Who watches that?" It turns out what may have been inconceivable viewing to 10-years-ago Molly is exactly what 2019 Molly wants to fill her free DVR space. For those who haven't seen the show, let me explain. Two families — usually two very different families — swap wives/moms for two weeks — all while the cameras are rolling. While I'm sure portions of it are staged, and participants are either asked or elect to "ham it up" for the cameras, what they capture and edit for air is fascinating.

I am hooked. All of the families chosen for the program-nomatter how squared away some may seem to be — need a little tweaking. And while watching the chaos unfold was what initially got me watching, I have stuck around because it is truly captivating to see how other people parent and run their households. It's actually turning out to be slightly informative. That is, when they aren't yelling at one another or ramping up the dramatic differences to make for compelling "stay tuned" commercial breaks.

Being able to see different parenting approaches on how to discipline, listen, create family time and share household duties has been very illuminating. Sometimes I see people using the same techniques I am and, from a distance, can see either why it's not working or how to manage things better when it feels like I'm not getting anywhere.

"Wife Swap" has for sure made me appreciate my husband. Not just for what a great partner and parent he is, but also that he can still look me in the eye and love me even though he knows I've been watching bad reality TV.

And the kids? This show came just in time. With summer break having started, the kids have loads of free time to try out all my new ideas about chore share, time accountability and screen-time privileges. There are so many fun responsibilities for them to try— and I haven't even finished season one.

Molly Cavanaugh of Channel 94.1 FM's "Big Party Show" in Omaha is a mom to two children and lives in Chicago. She writes weekly for momaha.com.

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