Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wife swap, but not in that way.

I watched an episode of Wife Swap or rather, the Aftermath show came on and intrigued me, so I found the episode repeated to watch it. It featured a chauvinistic domineering husband and his rather cowed family and a domineering lesbian and her unusual set-up with husband sleeping on the sofa and her girlfriend upstairs with her.

While both seemed to have their issues, the woman won me over because when she saw bits of herself and her behaviour reflected in the way the man behaved, she was quite horrified and appeared to want to make some changes. He, on the other hand, seemed either oblivious or uncaring that there might be something amiss: in fact utterly convinced he was incapable of error.

I was disturbed by him feeding meat to his vegetarian visitor unbeknownst to her and not seeming to see anything wrong in that. It's a bit like a waiter peeing in your soup. Or perhaps given the strength of her convictions on the subject, more like wiping your arse on a patriotic person's flag or spitting on a holy book. You may not share someone's beliefs/ethical concerns but doing something like that is an act of aggression and displays utter contempt for their feelings.

I was also perturbed by his tipping his medicated son out of bed and spraying something on him to wake him, swearing most foully at the same time. If you can do that in front of cameras what would you do without surveillance? And his relationship with his wife made me wince. She was smiling, smiling, smiling and smiling, and laughing at it just being "his way"...

All in all I was quite freaked out by him and the programme. It seems to me to be yet more exploitation television and on very dodgy ground morally. And yes, the participants choose to go on and it's all their own fault and they're horrible people anyway so deserve all they get. Possibly.

I can see the draw to watching it: after all, I did! But I turn off feeling slightly soiled by the experience. A bit like when I watch Dirt, a show I feel I probably shouldn't like or enjoy (given that it is gratuitous, salacious and bent on glamourising the sleb gossip-mongery machine of which I do not approve, not to mention it has Courtney Cox in it, looking far too thin.*), but I do anyway.

* These poor 30-something actresses who seem to have to be ridiculously thin, like that blonde woman in Cold Case, who used to look quite attractive but now looks like she would shatter if you spoke too loudly in her vicinity. She couldn't chase down a killer, she'd snap her legs if she tried to run.

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