Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I am not a big reality TV person but there are a few that catch my eye such as The Amazing Race, American Gladiator, American’s Next Top Model (this is my inner-girl talking) and occasionally I check out Super Nanny. Today I checked out Wife Swap but since I watched a whole episode for the first time, I have to throw that in the mix of Reality TV I watched and or enjoy. Here’s what happened, I did some running around all day and came home and took a nap with the television on. I woke up with Wife Swap staring me in the face. I didn’t change the channel because the episode caught my attention where the wife in a Black family exchanged places with a White family. The Black family were this uptight, strict, overseeing controlling family where the kids were a product of a modern oppression camp. The White family was that of a free spirit, no binding rules, full of creativity and one of fun, a literal FAMILY OF CLOWNS. Of course I was like, you know how this is going to turn out. The Black family will instill some values and the White family will rebel because ORDER always wins out over CHAOS in every situation.

To my surprised I saw one of my family member’s history in this episode. This Black family was Off the Chain with dictatorship. They were regimented from sun up to sun down. I won’t get into the particulars of how the show had me focused; but the resistance to change was greater for the Black family than the White family. The wife of the Black family when placed in the Clown Family went as far as moving her swapped family out of their home and into a larger HOUSE, selling their clothes and then took the husband to an agency to prove that he had no talent (which kinda backfired because he ended up getting not only an agent BUT a job doing what he was trained on doing; Entertaining). The White wife allowed for a little freedom for the children like having fewer chores, a family lawn party inviting neighborhood children and playing games, allowing the kids to explore their neighborhood and the deal breaker was allowing them to trash their father’s office and not being punished. As much as they enjoyed it, they were afraid ( by the way they didn’t get in trouble). Interesting enough, for the whole show I saw nothing but FEAR in the children’s eyes. That look of avoidance, which in my opinion, isn’t a sign of humility BUT a sign of weakness and lack of self-esteem, a family based on fear and discipline.

Upon the mini-reviews, the Black family’s husband (I guess he must have had a gun at his head when he said this) realized how COLD and dismissive he was to his children and he’d try and give a little more freedom and personal time to his kids and even listen to them more. He then goes on to say that I never knew that his children were so unhappy.

I paid close attention to the Black family (maybe because of bias, possibly because I saw they were the most dysfunctional) but I wanted them to get it. In my crystal ball of life, I saw those kids rebelling and the parents trying to figure out how and why for years. More so, I see the kids leaving home and severing their contact with the parents keeping them at arms length compounded with years of therapy. OK Maybe not therapy since BLACK FOLK don’t do that couch sharing stuff …. That’s what Oprah is for.

With the two families together exchanging opinions all I kept hearing the Black family say was, “We have a vision for our children”, “I’m not going to spend my life making my children happy”, “Love is not based on our kid’s happiness”, it was horrible the way the children were designated. From my point of view, the children seem more of a burden for the parent’s lack of personal happiness than the totality of the family enjoying their relationship AS FAMILY.

The wife of the other family kept interjecting, “You keep using the word TRAIN. You train animals and you raise and love children and I don’t see how you do that when they are miserable.” The Black wife’s response, “Love is not based on our kids happiness and I am not going to change that because we have a plan.”

In my personal life, my uncle had that same PLAN. When I was a child and my parents would take me to visit him, their house was set up the same way. The home was sterile of all fun and happiness. They had toys but they had rules for playing with them, I never saw or met any of my cousin’s friends; they had limits as to how far they could go from the home. Chores from sun up to sun down, the LORD had to be thanked for everything, you couldn’t speak or laugh out loud and when company did come by, the whole family had to sit in the living room, in assigned chairs neatly and quietly. It was like visiting THE STEPFORD FAMILY.

Well my cousins eventually grew up, one got pregnant out of wedlock and to a Thug, one was gay and in conversation found out he was being molested as a child by a church official and did not have the courage to tell the family. The third cousin? Distant. He has no contact with anyone and doesn't want any. The family eventually were excommunicated from their church for my UNCLE'S sin, and thus excommunicated himself from the entire family. The youngest cousin ended up being so distant from start and is doing his own thing that if he has adopted his wife's family as his only real family. No one knows what he is doing and I think he likes it that way. So here we are years later, and we ask ourselves, was this their “BIG VISION”?

The wife of the White family made a comment to the Black family that hit me like a brick wall, “The one place a kid should be able to go to, even if they know they will get in trouble is their parents.” I was caught sitting on the couch shaking my head in total agreement because so many kids, even the one’s here walking the streets of New York City can’t even begin to conceptualize this. The freedom to go to someone and tell his or her STORY to whenever they need to talk is the most damning thing to any community.

The kids upon having their mother come back were sad and crying. When asked why, they said they MISSED the other wife, the one that allowed them to be children. Can you imagine, as a Mother, having your kids say they miss a total stranger more than YOU?

Two weeks, after the switch, the Black family went back to the way they were and as the children were interviewed again, their responses were more inline with what their parents Vision for them to be. Several of them responded that they prefer their parents rules rather than the ones where the father and mother opened doors for communication and or the freedom to meet and explore their individual interests. In essence, it was about the rule of law and children being seen and not heard. I hope they are ready for the real world – I’m talking about the PARENTS.


jjbrock said...

Great post! I like me some reality tv. my favorite are Project Runway, Run House, and The Amazing Race. But I have watched wife swap once and did not care for it.

Shazza Nakim said...

You know, I just can't get into them. The one's that I do watch (except America's Top Model) are shows that I feel challenge and or make me think about my personal life. I have to know that if and when I watch a Reality TV Show, in the end I learned something about ME.

The show I blogged about, make me reflect upon my family and my relationsship with them.