Many of our favorite reality TV shows have been under fire at some point. Mel and Sue’s exit from the British Baking Show was due to producers attempting to make a “cruel show.” More recently, America’s Next Top Model alums have called out the show’s producers for mistreatment. Even The Biggest Loseris trying to rebrand.
Reality TV shows have been all over the news lately due to the horrible treatment of their viewers.
Now, here’s a woman from her family who was featured in an episode of Wife SwapShe’s speaking out. She said agreeing to be on the show was “the worst mistake of our lives.” Her family was on Swap with your wifeAround 10 years ago. However, the aftermath continues to be a problem.
Why ‘Swap with your wife’ Is Problematic
Wife SwapTwo families are often pitted against each other. Sometimes, it’s a conservative family against a more progressive family. The families might come from different social classes, or may have different lifestyles. Some examples include, “a pampered housewife trades places with a down-home country mom.” Or, “a religious conservative mother swaps families with a punk-rock mom.” You get the idea.
The show used any difference they could find and really drove the point home that the families don’t get along. Typically, one family is portrayed as the “good family” and the other is the “bad family.” There are fights and drama–all the makings of a reality show.
Heidi Herrington, then 20, was still living with her parents at the time filming began. Swap with your wife. Her conservative mother was swapped for a more laid-back Texas mother. Heidi went to TikTok with her grievances and ended up with four installments detailing her experience.
Heidi and her family were part in a traveling comedy act, well-known for their clean act. They were both wholesome and conservative but were also very disconnected. The other family was described as a family that “keeps it real” and “loves low-riding.” That family had an open communication style and was close-knit.
All parties had to sign a nondisclosure agreement (also known as an NDA) when they started the show. Heidi has since decided to voice her opinions on the show stating, “it’s been almost 10 years now, so I decided, f*** it.”
She stated that to be on the show, you would need to complete a 700-question psychological assessment. A one-hour interview with a psychologist was required. She said that the show’s reasoning for the intense questioning was to make sure you were “mentally sound enough” to be on the show.
Manipulation, Exploitation, And PTSD
Heidi believes that producers conned both families into drama and fighting. She claimed that they used their psychological evaluations to fuel the fire. Heidi stated that when she was asked about what makes her sad, she told the interviewer that being “lonely” and “alone” were her biggest fears.
In her four-part video series, Heidi stated, “I kid you f-ing not, the first conversation with the other mother, it becomes a fight, and she looks me dead in the eyes and says ‘you are alone, nobody cares about you, you have no friends, and I don’t care about you.’” Heidi goes on to say that she “broke down” because that was her biggest trigger.
Heidi believes that producers used the psych eval to “find my pain, and then [they] exploited it for television.” However, Heidi said she holds no ill-will toward the other family or mother, saying that she thinks that producers also manipulated and exploited the other family. She doesn’t blame the mother but thinks that their reactions to being manipulated were different. Heidi said she had a “flight” mentality, while the mother had a “fight” mentality.
The formula is a large part of the recipe for Swap with your wife is that the new wife has to follow the “family’s rules” for a week. The new wife will then establish new rules for the week. Heidi said that the show’s producers actually write the “family rules” and then the family has to sign a contract and agree to follow the rules, or else they re-film.
She said the producers “love bombed” both families, telling them that the other family needed help. She also accused them of not allowing the families to leave (even to get food), having long shoot days (10-14 hours), and not being “allowed” to talk to the other mom after shooting stopped.
Heidi said that it was futile to avoid drama or fights. Producers will mention the paperwork that the family signed if you try to do this, and halt filming. The paperwork stated that the show could sue the family for one-million dollars if they are unable to continue filming.
It appears that filming was done without considering the context. They were edited to tell a certain story, and producers pushed the participants to make a dramatic “reality” tv show.
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