A family who choose to live off the grid, without modern conveniences like electricity or a refrigerator, swap lives with a wealthy, materialistic family obsessed with status, on “Wife Swap,” FRIDAY, APRIL 17 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on ABC .
In a log cabin in the backwoods of Virginia, the Padovan-Hickmans are proud to be “modern pioneers.” DeLaura (46) and Steve (60) are raising their daughters, Tara (11) and Maren (8), to be self sufficient and environmentally conscious. Without electricity, the family must wear head flashlights to find their way around the dark house at night. Instead of going to the supermarket, they raise chickens, make their own cheese and eat fruit right off the vine. To conserve water, the entire family use the same tub of bath water, which they then use to flush the toilet. Even their clothes are recycled; Tara admits she has never owned a piece of brand new clothing. DeLaura doesn’t waste any time on her appearance; she gladly admits she hasn’t shaved in six years, to the delight of her husband. The Padovan-Hickmans believe they’ve cut out all the “stuff” that comes along with chasing the American Dream. For them, the American Dream is a nightmare.
Meanwhile, the materialistic Burroughs family from New Jersey say they are living the American Dream and loving it! Spoiled Shannon Nicole (33) and her husband Shannon Michael (35) believe life is about spending money and dressing to impress. Shannon Nicole loves big diamonds, big furs and big hair. She spares no expense on cosmetic procedures and, when asked if her appearance is real, she answers, “real….real expensive!” Shannon Nicole spends hours each day primping herself and her twins, Nicholas and Alexa (6). To keep the kids happy, they proudly admit that bribery is a useful parenting technique. The Burroughs designed their ornate home around a glistening, high-wattage chandelier in the hope that people driving by will be impressed by their “wow” house. In order to keep up with his wife’s expensive taste, Shannon Michael works as a technology consultant. He has passed on his love of technology to his kids, who each have their own computer and heaps of video games.
In the first week, DeLaura Padovan-Hickman leaves behind her pioneer life and enters the high-tech, modern world. In order to live as Shannon Nicole, she receives a “Jersey chic” makeover complete with teased hair, high heels and animal print clothing. After spending hours alone staring at herself in the mirror and visiting the plastic surgeon’s office, she concludes Shannon Nicole is living a self-centered and shallow life, while her husband and kids trail behind doing nothing but playing on their computers. Meanwhile in Virginia, Shannon Nicole Burroughs is shocked when she is dropped off in the woods and has to trek through mud just to get to the Padovan-Hickmans’ electricity-free, log cabin. When she sees the goats, she explains that she usually doesn’t take care of animals-she wears them. She refuses to transform into DeLaura and claims that people who shop at thrift stores are nothing but losers. After spending time with Tara and Maren, she believes Steve and DeLaura are failing as parents because they don’t pamper the girls like the princesses she believes they deserve to be.
In the second week of the swap, when the wives change the rules and turn the tables, DeLaura Padovan-Hickman strives to “unplug” the Burroughs family in hopes they’ll learn to appreciate one another. Though Shannon Michael argues he didn’t build his fancy home to have to rely on flashlights, he eventually succumbs and turns out the lights. DeLaura also asks that the kids donate some of their toys and clothes, but the usually indulged twins struggle to understand why they have to part with their prized possessions. DeLaura hopes Shannon Michael can learn to stand up and be a father instead of tuning everything out. Meanwhile in Virginia, Shannon Nicole wants to turn the Padovan-Hickman “dump” into a wow house. She attempts to bring the out of touch family into the 21st century by introducing them to technology and the thrill of spending money, but it all goes downhill after a failed trip to the mall. Steve tries to explain his family doesn’t believe more stuff will bring his family any more happiness than they already have. After two weeks in another home, can DeLaura Padovan-Hickman bring the Burroughs back to basics by cutting out the clutter and healing their disconnected lives? And can Shannon Nicole Burroughs bring the Padovan-Hickmans one step closer into the modern world?