Wife Swap Australia – circus vs resort life
A “pampered trophy wife” swaps her gated golf-resort lifestyle for that of a “hard-working circus performer”. What life lessons will be learned here?
Tanya lives on a resort estate with her husband Brendan and two kids. She self-describes as a stay-at-home-mum, but she’s really home alone. Brea is at school and between daycare and her parents looking after Reif, it seems she has only one or two days with him.
Like Tanya, I have little ambition outside a resort lifestyle. Of course, that at least leaves me with some ambition, as I don’t actually have a resort lifestyle*. It’s not all fun and games, though, as Brendan holds the purse strings, presumably doling out money as he sees fit or just paying for everything. Tanya wishes she had her own bank account that he would just pay money into for her. “Image is massively important” to him, so I guess those mani-pedis are an investment in a happy home life. She hopes her new husband will listen to what she says. Given the preview, I think she needs to get used to disappointment.
Shannon ran away with the circus at 16. Will this be a real-life Enid Blyton story? Mr Galliano stroking his moustaches and cracking the whip? Hmmmm. She is a trapeze artist who also shovels shit, sets up seating in the tent, empties the caravan loo, does all the housework and works in the canteen. Phew. Kids Memphis and Cassius train 5-6 hours a day, perform in the circus and do an hour a day of tutoring. We are told that laconic husband Glen also does a lot of work, but the Wife Swap editors abhor subtleties so we see him at the pub.
As the wives settle into their new homes, Shannon is overjoyed to see a dishwasher and Tanya seems pleasantly surprised by how tidy the little caravan is. Then she opens the wardrobe. Household manuals are read and families met.
I suspect it wasn’t exactly Tanya’s decision to perform her first chore – literally shovelling shit – in the clothes she pitched up in (a slinky leopard-print dress and towering heels) so props to her for going along with it. She is not able to persevere with emptying the caravan loo trays, though, and leaves the task for 9 year-old Memphis to complete. As Shannon noted in the manual, Glen explained how it was to be done, helpfully standing by and gagging over the smell from a distance whilst commenting that the smell would get easier to deal with every time. Supportive.
Shannon, meanwhile, is contemplating a purposeless life as she is massaged, pampered, and driven to dinner in a golf-buggy.
Rules change time and Tanya decides that the the circus kids need more routine, greater supervision and more school. Glen needs to take over loo, poo and pew duties and spend more quality time with the family instead of skiving off to the pub.
Over in “lifestyle” land, Shannon thinks Brendan needs to be unplugged from the grid to see what the “real world” is all about – no phone, sleeping in a tent, and spending quality time with Brea. The “real world” part of the rule change for Brendan seems arbitrary and based on her judgement of his judgementalism – is her world any more real than his? More people would live like Brendan than like Shannon. In practice, however, it seems she just wants him to experience a day of not being an image-obsessed metrosexual, so she dresses him in “worker” costume of a grease-stained hi-viz vest and books him in for a shift as a waiter at the resort club. He takes to the changes with good grace.
Not so Glen. He is very defensive about their life and routine which seems at odds with the purpose of the experiment, but in view of Brendan’s “wow, you’re not a carny freak” response when he heard Shannon was from the circus, it’s safe to assume that they have to deal with negative perceptions from outsiders a lot of the time. Still, he’s got to realise that seven hours of education a week (that’s if their tutor also does weekends) for two kids with one tutor does NOT add up to “more schooling” than the average kid gets in a classroom, purely based on teacher-student ratios. And that just because Tanya “doesn’t even pronounce th properly” doesn’t mean he can dismiss everything she says.
Tanya ends up reneging on most of her rules. Backing down on the supervision of the kids rule was sensible in view of Glen’s opposing arguments, but given that he traded off the loo duty with a mate for some beers, it was sad that she caved to his sulking and let him head off to the pub. I don’t know how they resolved the manure or chair shifting chores.
The table meeting was weepy, but mostly because Brendan and Tanya were both gushing over how Shannon needs to take time out to pamper herself. It was all very friendly and Glen seemed to keep a low profile which, given his passive resistance to the entire project, was wise.
This episode promised drama but didn’t deliver. I’m glad that the preview showing Glen’s horribly aggressive “you touch ANY of my family and I’ll beat the living f*ck out of you!” to Tanya was contextualised as an explanation to her of how the circus family look out for one another, but I think it showed up the general lack of tension within the ep. I had thought that I’d find the “lifestyle” family appalling but, eh, if you have the means and the desire for that kind of life, then why not, right? It wouldn’t suit everybody, but no harm, no foul.
As always, the episode finished with a revisit to review which rule changes stuck and it was good to see that Brendan and Brea are maintaining father-daughter time. Pointless, really, to revisit the circus family as Tanya’s rule changes didn’t even see out her tenure!