Oakland family featured on "Wife Swap"

January 16, 2008 5:58:47 PM PST
The Harrison-Velasco Family, Cecilia, John, and Maya, are a local family that are being featured on ABC's Wife Swap.

A strict housewife who raises her kids as if they are at boot camp swaps lives with a wife who performs as a clown on Wife Swap.

Tonight on "Wife Swap" a wife that trains her children instead of raising them, swaps places with a trainee clown who encourages her daughter to challenge authority.

Airdate: This will air on Wednesday, January 16, 2008.
Time: 8:00 PM
Channel: ABC, Channel 7

About "Wife Swap":
Each week from across the country, two families with very different values are chosen to take part in a two-week long challenge. The wives from these two families exchange husbands, children and lives (but not bedrooms) to discover just what it's like to live another woman's life. It's a mind-blowing experiment that often ends up changing their lives forever.

In Northern California, Tanya Marshall (37), her husband Ben (38) do not raise their four children, Trevaughn (15), Brianna (14), Benjamin (12) and Josiah (10)?they train them. Tanya describes her home as a boot camp and childhood as a time to prepare children to become successful adults. Ben and Tanya both freely admit that fun is not a priority. The kids address their parents as Sir and Ma'am. They have to do hours of chores around the house and if they don't do them to Ben's satisfaction they just have to do them again. Tanya home schools the kids and TV and computer time are strictly limited. The kids are so overprotected that they're forbidden to go past the stop sign at the end of their street. The Marshalls are very careful with their finances and Tanya takes the kids out in the neighborhood to recycle bottles and cans so they can make extra money. Being a member of the Marshall family means that responsibility must comes first, and fun comes a far second.

In nearby Northern California, Cecilia Harrison-Velasco (30), her husband John (38) and Maya (7) are a family of clowns. The whole family is dedicated to Cecilia's ambition to be a clown to the point that they have plunged themselves into debt to fund Cecilia's expensive clown lessons at a local clown college. The family lives in a tight, converted garage in order to save money. For the Harrison-Velascos, doing what makes you happy is far more important than having a clean environment, financial security or a spacious home. John treats Cecilia like a queen and has put his serious acting career on the back burner so he can help live Cecilia's clown dreams. Maya has no chores, no responsibilities and is encouraged to question adult authority at every turn.

In the first week, Cecilia discovers that life is not the "big top" at the Marshalls as she has to enforce the kids' long list of chores. When the kids show their unhappiness to Cecilia about the limits of their freedom, Cecilia confronts Ben about how ridiculously strict his home rules are. Meanwhile, Tanya is not happy living in the garage and she reluctantly attends clown school with John and Maya, complete with clown costume and make-up. She notices that John seems to put his goals after Cecilia's and questions their lack of financial vision.

In the second week of the swap, when the wives change the rules and turn the tables, it's circus time as Cecilia sends in the clowns and the Marshall kids dress up. She tries to free their self-expression encouraging them to go wild throwing paint around Ben's office. Cecilia sets a "no boundaries" rule so that the kids no longer do chores or conduct themselves within any guidelines. The kids gather the courage to tell their father how unhappy they are with the restrictions that are put on them, which forces Ben to re-evaluate his methods. Meanwhile, there's no more clowning around when Tanya makes structure a top priority and moves John and Maya into a larger home. The house might be bigger and better but John and Maya are not allowed to bring any of their clowning gear. Having to abandon everything he loves, John has a total breakdown and heads out of the house in his underwear.

At the end of the swap when the couples are reunited, will Tanya discover her inner clown and decide that life outside the house might be better training than the boot camp? Will Cecilia realize that there's time for clowning around and time for structure and responsibility?

"Wife Swap" is an RDF Media production. It was created by Stephen Lambert ("Faking It" and "Junkyard Wars") and is executive produced by Stef Wagstaffe and Michael Davies ("Who Wants to be a Millionaire"). Mike Gamson, Mitchell Rosenbaum and Stephanie Schwam-Adams are the co-executive producers.

"Wife Swap" is broadcast with Spanish subtitles via secondary closed captioning.