Wife Swap (American TV series)

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Wife Swap
Wife Swap revised logo.jpg
Narrated byJohn Schwab
Brian Lee
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes124 (original series)
40 (Celebrity Wife Swap)
20 (reboot)
Running time42 minutes
Production companyRDF USA
Original networkABC (2004–10; 2013)
Paramount Network (2019–20)
Original releaseSeptember 26, 2004 (2004-09-26) –
August 13, 2010 (2010-08-13)
(original run)
March 21, 2013 (2013-03-21) – May 2, 2013 (2013-05-02)
(revived series)
April 4, 2019 (2019-04-04) – April 16, 2020 (2020-04-16)
January 2, 2012 (2012-01-02) – September 2, 2015 (2015-09-02)
(Celebrity Wife Swap)

Wife Swap is an American reality television program that was first broadcast on ABC in 2004 based on the British show with the same name. In the program, two families, usually from different social classes and lifestyles, swap wives/mothers – and sometimes husbands – for two weeks. Actor John Schwab narrated the program on ABC from 2004 to 2010.

The program will usually deliberately swap wives with dramatically different lifestyles, such as a messy wife swapping with a fastidiously neat one, or a wife who only cooks vegan swapped with a non-vegan wife, documenting the cultural and social differences that the two families discover with the new family member. A spin-off series featuring celebrities debuted January 2, 2012 under the title Celebrity Wife Swap and lasted for 4 seasons.

On March 8, 2018, it was announced that CMT had picked up the series for a 10-episode reboot under its original format. However, it was later announced that the reboot was premiered on April 4, 2019 on Paramount Network.

On September 5, 2019, the series was renewed for a 20-episode twelfth season which premiered on February 13, 2020.[1][2]

On September 22, 2020, Paramount Network cancelled the series, as part of the network's then-planned shift to films.[3]


During the first week, the new wife must adhere to exactly the same rules and lifestyle of the wife she is replacing. Each wife leaves a house manual which explains her role in the family and the duties she holds. This helps to determine what rules the wives will apply at the "rules change ceremony".

During the second week, the new wives are allowed to establish their own rules, and their new families must adhere to these new household rules. It usually takes a while for the families to adjust to this policy, meanwhile the wives disburse a sum of money to the family they have become involved with, to do what the wives see fit to spend it on.

At the end of the two weeks, the two couples all meet together for the first time, and the wives, along with their husbands, discuss how they felt about the two weeks. This often descends into personal insults and has degenerated into violence at least twice. More often than not, however, both families reach toward a middle ground and express that they have learned from the experience. Sometimes, the table meeting is a very heartfelt and emotional time for the two families who sometimes have complete and mutual respect for each other. A few weeks later, the cameras return to record what changes have occurred since the swap.

Legal issues[edit]

Trading Spouses[edit]

In early 2004, ABC announced a U.S. version of the British show Wife Swap, to be called Trading Moms, having outbid Fox Network for the rights for the format in the U.S.[4] In June the same year, Fox publicized a program with an almost identical format to Wife Swap entitled Trading Spouses, which it began broadcasting on July 1.[5] ABC then reverted to the original UK title for their series, which began on September 26. In December 2004, RDF Media sued Fox for copyright infringement for reproducing the Wife Swap format without their permission.[6] In 2008, FOX sold the rights to the show to CMT, ending the run.[7]

Gay swap[edit]

In November 2005, Jeffrey Bedford, a participant in the American series, sued ABC network for trading his wife for a gay man. He accused ABC of being dishonest, not allowing him contact with his wife, and making him miss his lessons at college. He claimed that, when he ceased participating with the production of the episode, ABC threatened that it would not tell him his wife's whereabouts and would not pay for his wife's return home. In December 2005 he sued for over $10 million,[8] although a spokesman revealed that the contract stated the spouse could be of either gender.[9] In 2007, the UK version began a search for more gay or lesbian swaps.[10]

Alicia Guastaferro[edit]

In March 2010, Alicia Guastaferro sued ABC for $100 million, claiming that her appearance and depiction on a 2008 episode of Wife Swap led to her public embarrassment and that she suffered from panic attacks and suicidal tendencies as a result.[11] Guastaferro alleged that many of the scenes that depicted her as a "spoiled brat" were staged and that she had been purposely asked to "act a little more spoiled."[12] The lawsuit was settled out of court later that same year and the terms were not disclosed to the press.[12]

Notable episodes[edit]

Wife Swap has aired several unique episodes in its history.

In 2004, The Spolansky Family had a unique episode as they were the first incredibly affluent family to be shown on the program. Jodi and Steven were given immensely harsh criticism for their entitled behavior and posh-like attitude on the show, like when Steven makes sarcastic and cruel remarks about Lynn's family (the swapping wife) and her family's financial status, or when Jodi made comments about doing Lynn's job (which is chopping wood for 2 hours a day) and then proceeded to put down Brad (the husband she was swapping with) for his family's lifestyle. They live on the glamorous Upper East Side in New York City, famously seen on The CW's Gossip Girl series where Jodi Spolansky is relatively comparable to Lily Van Der Woodsen, a Manhattan socialite and philanthropist and Steven Spolansky is relatively comparable to Bart Bass, a wealthy business mogul with a harsh attitude. They both were looked upon as neglectful parents as they were never really around their children and instead either going out shopping, out to the gym, working or out to dinner with just themselves alone. This episode also included The Bradleys, a New Jersey rural farm family with low income, the complete opposite of The Spolanskys.

For their hundredth episode on March 13, 2009, the U.S. version selected 24 families to participate in a contest to reswap. Viewers voting in October 2008 picked the artistic/psychic Silver family of Florida and the storm-chasing/UFO-hunting Heenes of Colorado.[13] The Heenes later gained notoriety in the national media when they were involved in the Balloon boy hoax. According to Denver, Colorado blogger Bill Husted, "It sounds like a good match".[14] But, "distressingly", L.A. Times writer Jon Caramancia wrote, "it's clear they haven't learned a thing".[15]

In 2009, an episode of Wife Swap aired featuring six-year-old Curtis Holland. In this episode, Curtis and his calorie-loving family from North Carolina experience a week at the hands of fitness instructor Joy Brown who tries to force the family to change their unhealthy lifestyle. Throughout the episode, Holland frequently voices his distaste for Joy's fitness regime. After the episode aired, Holland became very recognizable and had even been approached to film a reality show as well as advertise for a bacon company, both of which did not work out.[16] A clip from the episode has received 12.5 million views as of June 2018.[17] In 2015, Holland created a GoFundMe page to raise money for a car, stating that he never received any money from appearing on Wife Swap.[18] The GoFundMe page was later removed.

Celebrity Wife Swap[edit]

In January 2012, ABC began airing a celebrity version of Wife Swap.

Season 1[edit]

The first season had 5 episode where ten celebrities and their families took part:

  1. Tracey Gold and Carnie Wilson
  2. Gary Busey and Ted Haggard
  3. Dee Snider and Flavor Flav
  4. Niecy Nash and Tina Yothers
  5. Antonio Sabàto Jr. and Mick Foley

Season 2[edit]

On May 11, 2012, the show was renewed for a second season. The second season debuted on February 26, 2013. The celebrities who took part were:

  1. Kate Gosselin and Kendra Wilkinson
  2. Coolio and Mark McGrath
  3. Alan Thicke and Gilbert Gottfried
  4. Bristol and Willow Palin and Joan and Melissa Rivers
  5. Ric Flair and Roddy Piper
  6. Nia Peeples and Tiffany
  7. Andy Dick and Lorenzo Lamas
  8. Downtown Julie Brown and Lisa Leslie
  9. Gerardo and Sisqó

Season 3[edit]

It was announced on July 31, 2013, that the series has been renewed for a thirteen episode third season.[19] The third season began on April 15, 2014. The celebrities taking part are:

  1. Daniel Baldwin and Jermaine Jackson
  2. Tichina Arnold and Kelly Packard
  3. Robin Leach and Eric Roberts
  4. Laila Ali and Angie Stone
  5. Angie Everhart and Pat Neely
  6. Larry Birkhead and Hélio Castroneves
  7. David Justice and Dweezil Zappa
  8. Amanda Beard and Heidi Montag
  9. Judy Gold and Penn Jillette
  10. Joe Piscopo and Barry Williams
  11. Jenna von Oÿ and Jill Zarin
  12. Tyler Christopher and Ronn Moss
  13. Plaxico Burress and DJ Paul

Season 4[edit]

The fourth season premiered on May 20, 2015.

  1. Jackée Harry and Traci Lords
  2. Verne Troyer and Hines Ward
  3. Jeremy London and David A. Siegel
  4. Tami Roman and Kerri Walsh Jennings
  5. Charo and Jill Whelan
  6. Vince Neil and Gunnar Nelson
  7. Holly Robinson Peete and Margaret Cho
  8. Cloris Leachman and Pia Zadora
  9. Sean Lowe and Jason Mesnick
  10. George Hamilton and Alana Stewart and Angela Raiola
  11. Corey Feldman and Tommy Davidson
  12. CeCe Peniston and Kellie Williams
  13. Robert Carradine and Terrell Owens


Episodes of Wife Swap air in syndication on Lifetime in the U.S., E4 in the UK and CMT in Canada.[20][21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ""Wife Swap" Renewed for 20 New Episodes on Paramount Network". The Futon Critic. September 5, 2019.
  2. ^ "Video: Official Trailer for New Season of "Wife Swap" - Premieres February 13 on Paramount Network". The Futon Critic. January 27, 2020.
  3. ^ Otterson, Joe (September 22, 2020). "Paramount Network Rebrands, Doubles Down on Movies and Minis (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  4. ^ Carter, Bill (2 August 2004). "In Reality TV, Is It Thievery Or Flattery?". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Spouse swap a fit for Fox: Net snipes at Alphabet with Trading Spouses" article from Variety
  6. ^ "Wife Swap sues Trading Spouses" article from post-gazette.com
  7. ^ "Breaking News — TWENTIETH TELEVISION SELLS FAMILY FOCUSED REALITY SERIES "TRADING SPOUSES" AND "NANNY 911" TO CMT". TheFutonCritic.com. 27 February 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  8. ^ "Wife Swap husband sues for emotional damages after gay show". www.campaignlive.co.uk. Retrieved 2021-09-09.
  9. ^ "Man Sues After Reality TV Gay 'Wife Swap'". FOX News. 21 November 2005.
  10. ^ "Wife Swap want gay or lesbian family". Pink News. 13 February 2007. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  11. ^ "Teen beauty queen portrayed as spoiled brat on 'Wife Swap' files $100M lawsuit". NYDN. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  12. ^ a b "'Wife Swap' star Alicia Guastaferro to plead not guilty to prostitution in Thruway arrest". Syracuse.com. 8 October 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  13. ^ "Home". Wife Swap. ABC.com. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  14. ^ "Ft. Collins couple play "Wife Swap" – AGAIN! | The Peek". Blogs.denverpost.com. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  15. ^ Caramanica, Jon (8 March 2009). "'Wife Swap': Voyeurism with a message (sometimes)". Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ "Remember King Curtis from Wife Swap? Here's what he looks like now". NewsComAu. Retrieved 2017-12-20.
  17. ^ FlyLo123 (2009-08-25), "Bacon is good for me!", retrieved 2017-12-20
  18. ^ "Viral phenomenon 'King Curtis' from 'Wife Swap' just broke his 6 year silence to ask the internet for money". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-12-20.
  19. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 31, 2013). "ABC's 'Celebrity Wife Swap' Renewed For Third Season". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  20. ^ "Wife Swap Full Episodes, Video & More".
  21. ^ "Wife Swap | CMT.ca". www.cmt.ca. Archived from the original on 2014-09-03.

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