The Web site also has a forum of people who enter cooking contests. Mostly it's friendly chatter among people who have a common interest in cooking and cooking contests. In December, there was a post, with the title "Reality TV Calling" that caught my eye (the "I" in this quote is one of the forum administrators):
I got an e-mail from a Casting Producer with ABC Television and they are looking to feature families who cook competitively for the program Wife Swap. (I strongly suggest you watch this program before you think you may want to do this.)
She said: "We know how popular cook-offs have become and we’d love to meet families who are passionate about passing their love of competitive cooking on to others. We're looking for fun loving families who live to have a good time. In case you are unfamiliar with the show, Wife Swap is a family show on ABC primetime. The premise is simple: two moms from two very different families get the opportunity to swap lives for one week to experience what it's like to live a different lifestyle. This also provides them the chance to see what they can teach another family about their own philosophy. The goal of our show is for two families with different viewpoints on life and family to both give and take away something positive by “stepping outside the box” for one week.
"We are looking for two parent families with children between the ages of 6 and 17 who have outgoing personalities! "
(HERE IS THE INTERESTING PART:) "All featured families receive a $20,000 honorarium as a thank you for their ten day filming commitment. Families must reside in the continental U.S."
I have to admit that the notion of $20K for 10 days of my time caught my eye, and I toyed about the idea for an afternoon. I emailed a contest buddy to see what she thought. Some of her response:
The thought of the Wife Swap thing briefly crossed my mind as I could endure anything for 10 days-especially for 20K-that is one big chunk of change. However, the crazy psycho freak that would be around my children for 10 days is another story! They may be scarred for life! Have you seen that show-it is edited to make some people look like complete wackos.
Her point about a wacko being around my kids definitely put a damper on my interest. I could put up with a lot for $20K for a week, but to inflict it on my kids?
My friend and I also theorized who they might pair with a cooking contest family, because the show is always about opposites.
Someone who eats fast food all the time? My family wouldn't mind that for a week. No biggie.
A vegan? I wouldn't mind trying that lifestyle for 10 days. My family would revolt but it wouldn't kill them.
Then my contest buddy's husband noticed an article about people who dumpster dive for their food. Now THAT I'd have a problem with. And the idea was dampened a bit further.
I did some poking around online and curiously found that there wasn't a lot of information about the families who had been on the show. I found a few who said they had had a positive experience. I also found a few who said the show had been edited to cast them in a negative light, and they still were receiving hate mail. They said they'd never do it again. And I started thinking ... what if 10 days of my life was distilled into about 15 minutes, with only my most negative actions making the cut? What would be the spin they'd put on it? That gave me serious pause.
The final nail on the coffin of Wife Swap was my husband. I mentioned it to him and he said an emphatic "NO WAY." With an "are you crazy?" thrown in. And that was that.
I hadn't given it much thought since then -- I never watch the show -- until the following article caught my eye:
Husbands Behaving Badly
The husband was truly despicable, and the backlash is enormous. And I started thinking about the possibilities of what kind of horrible person my family could have been exposed to for 10 days.
I am truly ashamed that I ever thought about it.