March 16, 2005

An inside look at reality fakery.

The NYT reports.
In tonight's episode [of "Wife Swap"], for example, the Oeths, a family of six, are described by the narrator as putting "success before family life" and as "high achievers who run their family like a business." In pitching the episode in a one-page memorandum to ABC, the show's producers - a British company called RDF Media, which also produces a British version - posed the following question: "Will Mrs. Oeth get in touch with her natural maternal instincts?"

In fact, Mrs. Oeth, 36, who works at an investment firm, said in a telephone interview this week that she had stayed home for five years to raise her four children, a fact the producers never share with viewers, and that she had returned to work only last year, when her husband left a high-pressure job in Manhattan.

"There is a very big element of unreality to the way they pigeonholed me," she said.

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