Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wife Swap

Sometimes when you're sick and all you can do is lie on the couch and cough and gasp for breath through a nose so swollen and plugged with snot, the one thing that will really make you feel better is to watch some crazy assed shit on television. So that is exactly what I did.

Today I treated myself to an hour of "Wife Swap" from 2007 and in this hour I think I may have actually gotten sicker. I could not believe what I saw.

First there was a normal, clean, educated and friendly San Francisco family. These were people I could be friends with. They swapped with a family from Iowa that was so batshit out of their freaking minds that I can't believe they even exist. Alas, they do.

The Haigwoods lived in total filth and squalor on a farm in BFE in the Iowa that I clearly did not visit during my summer there. I thought Iowa was an idyllic paradise, but for these people, it looked positively medieval (in a bad way, not in a cute Ren Fest way). So, apparently, they don't believe in cleaning. EVER. Their toilet was literally black and staying that way because cleaning products are bad and cleaning is bad and if you clean you're going to die or something. But that's not all. They eat a totally raw diet, but they eat raw meat and raw eggs. They let it rot in mason jars because they believe that bacteria is good. These people ate RAW CHICKEN. They snacked on RAW EGGS. Plain raw eggs. They made their own kefir and because they were totally rigid and fanatical, part of their plan involved eating every two hours. They set alarms for the middle of the night so they'd wake up and drink their rotten, homemade kefir. Can you imagine? They also didn't bathe or wash. They'd handle farm animals and raw meat and not wash their hands even.

I really can't describe what this house looked like. They need to be on "Hoarders" next.

Naturally, the poor woman from San Francisco freaked when she saw how they lived and tried to get them to see some sense. Of course they didn't.

The one thing I noticed was that these people were, obviously, very emotionally unstable. They were totally neurotic. The father had a nervous breakdown and fell sobbing on his mucked up bathroom floor because they were asked to eat in a restaurant and go off their diet. The producers of the show needed call the men in white coats right there. The poor kids were absolute head cases. The boy went into hysterics. The girl convinced herself she was dying from foreign contaminants from being forced to go out into the real world. They were the sickliest, most maladjusted, whipped dog teenagers I've ever seen. I think the boy is going to end up mutilating prostitutes at remote highway rest areas across the Midwest in a few years. This is definitely the makings of a serial killer. You mark my words. This kid is going to be eating people raw before long.

Of all the weird things I've seen people come up with, this had to be it. This really was it. These were the strangest people I have ever seen and that is saying a lot.

I haven't been able to get them out of my head all day. I had to start googling around and apparently, after the show originally aired, a bunch of people called Child Protective Services on them and they came out and investigated. And you know what they said? It was fine. CPS said it was ok for people to live like that. I couldn't believe it. So if it's ok for people to live like that and force their kids to live in filth and eat raw chicken, then how bad must the conditions be for the kids who they do decide to put into foster care? Really, because I can't imagine much worse than what I saw on Wife Swap. I really can't. And did I mention that the kids don't go to school? They just do farm work. This doesn't surprise me at all. I mean, in school they would be exposed to the toxic outside influences of health, cleanliness and cooked food and maybe even fun.

Good Lord. I'm so traumatized.

It reminded me of that blog I told you about a couple weeks ago where the young Quiverfull couple lived on nothing in a tiny, dirty apartment and ate a bunch of fermented stuff all made in a crockpot in order to save money. That girl isn't as bad as these people, but she's young yet. I could see her thinking the Haigwoods were pretty cool. She shut down her blog by the way. I don't know why, but I suspect too many people were calling her out on endangering her kids (because she was) and it got too uncomfortable. I was kind of hoping the Wife Swap family had a blog, but they probably think the computer is poisonous or maybe their kids would use it to communicate with the outside world or something terrible like that.

What is with these people with these extremist, radical lifestyles? What makes these ideas appeal to them in the first place? What could make someone all of a sudden be like "You know, raw chicken HAS to be better. And you know what else, it has to be better if you let it rot in a mason jar for four months. In fact, this is the secret to life. Raw, rotten chicken."

It seems that all of these people from the Haigwoods, to the poor blogger with her crockpot, to my stepmother Louise, to scores of fundamentalists and Quiverfullers and various other fringy, loony groups out there are all ruled by one thing - Fear. They are petrified of everything. They live in a perpetual state of anxiety. I think that all of these people are actually suffering from a form of OCD. They are scared of the world, which is the obsession part, so they concoct strange habits, rituals and rigid, inflexible lifestyles in order to protect and buffer themselves from the world that they fear. That's the compulsion part. It's no different than obsessive hand washing. The mechanism behind it is the same. Fear = Anxiety = Weird Behavior to Try to Counteract Anxiety Which Never Works so Behavior Escalates. It's just on a grander scale. It's just crazy.

Please let me get better soon so I can get up off the couch and watch something more productive, because after Wife Swap, I think I must have watched fifty shows about Nostradamus and how the world is going to end here in the next few years. I would like to know when the History Channel turned into the Doomsday Prophecies from Varying Whack Jobs Throughout the Millennia Channel. Can someone tell me when this happened and how this is history all of a sudden?

If you'd like to read about the Wife Swap loons here is an article.

If you'd like to watch a portion of this insanity start here and then just search for "Wife Swap Raw Meat Family" and you'll find other clips from the show. You will die. I am not kidding you.


Consultant Calamities said...

O.M.G. I am home sick with a horrid cold too; and I've been watching junk TV! I SAW THAT SHOW TODAY!! It was soooo disgusting! I had to walk away from the TV during that show. NAAAASTY. Did you see how the crazy mother said that it was so horrible that the San Fransisco mom made sure her kids drank enough water? she talked about how awful water was, and how it was "solvents" etc.

Crayyyyzeeeeee! where do they GET these people?!

Wide Lawns said...

I can't believe you saw it too!!! How insane was that? I know! The water!! How can someone say water is bad for your kids?

I still don't get how CPS didn't remove the children from that home. It's clearly dangerous and those kids are damaged beyond all repair I think.

Anonymous said...

I read elsewhere that some people called CPS about the children's bedroom post, so I suspect that may be the reason why that lady took her blog down. Though if the raw-meat family was deemed fit to raise children I suppose a makeshift bunk bed and sheetless urine-stained mattresses won't be that big of a deal.

Anonymous said...

So I now have the image of the days of the Black Plague when people developed a mania for religion because of the horror and despair.

... and an urge to only eat deep, deep, fried Kentucky Fried Chicken, if I can ever choke it down again after this.

Good post, lol.

Anonymous said...

If there is one thing families like these inspire in me is an immediate desire to clean, redecorate, and fix myself a nice medium-well steak dinner.

It's the same reason I like to watch "Clean House."

Sixteen Chickens said...

" bad must the conditions be for the kids who they do decide to put into foster care?"
Trust me when I say "you don't want to know the answer."

Anonymous said...

Wow that was weird. Though I've seen worse when it comes to hoarding and housekeeping... sadly.

How could those kids not be taken from that house? And was that boy born with autism or something? He reminds me of my brother who has aspergers.

Erica said...

Wasn't that the family that was brushing their teeth with a clay and butter concoction? And the mom had a ring of plaque around her gums.. Yeah, that will be really healthy when all of her teeth fall out. I could go on and on and on about those people. I could make an argument against all of their crazy beliefs as well. When that episode first aired I could it, and it was right after I had moved from NY to Iowa, HAH. Fortunately Des Moines was severely lacking in those sorts of crazies..

Anonymous said...

Oh, jayzus, yes---the "brush your teeth with butter" family. I guess we (as a species) survived the stone age, etc., so the bacteria isn't actually as "dangerous" as we perceive (if one is used to that sort of thing)... but seriously yuck. Meat tastes better if cooked. A lot freaking better. Butter-brushing---eeuuuwwww. Raw meat the smell just makes me kind of sick. And the lack of house cleaning---what must that house smell like? My stomach just flipped over.

Also, I think that is the episode when the girl claims to be practicing math skills by counting eggs. Yeah...primary school math skills.


Dayna said...

I saw that episode the first time it aired. Today I came upon one of the crazy boys eating raw eggs, got a glipmse of the house and quickly remembered those wackadoodles and changed the channel.
I cliicked over to your quiverfull link and found this other blog Vyckie's Story-No Longer Qivering (no U in Qivering). She had a 28 part story about how she entered religion as a teen bride, joined the Quiverfull movement, realized it was destroying her family(she only was able to have 7 kids)and came to her senses and got out. Took me a while to read, but a very interesting story.

kerry said...

I really don't think I want to actually see them. Eeeeeewwwwww!!!!

I hope you get better soon!

Anonymous said...

I was home sick and watched it too!! How scary was that teenage boy?! "I'm whispering so I don't yell." OMG, at the end when the crazy mom was back home and just popping raw chicken into her mouth and joking about how sick she was going to get. Horrified. Beyond crazy.

mcgrimus said...

What I can't believe is that the producers of Wife Swap could actual cajole such a fear-driven family to submit themselves to any form of change, to have it filmed, and to open themselves up to the world they so fear. Must all come down to $$$, as I can't imagine these people were financially solvent.

Here's a good idea for a new reality show (because we need another one of those): Job Swap. Get two extremely different jobs---like, say, professional wrestler and kindergarten teacher---and see how they do.

Jean_Phx said...

I was home sick also - first time in 5 years that I missed a dinner with my mother. Saw that on the listing and thankfully went back to sleep.

A said...

OMG, yes to "Job Swap", mcgrimus - that would be awesome!

Grumpy Housewife said...

I still don't get how CPS can say that video footage of a filthy, squalor-ridden house is merely "untidy" and not child abuse.

Really? You mean I can stop cleaning my house, and force us all to live in filthy, unsanitary conditions, and I'm not committing child abuse? I bet if I did that, they'd lock me up.

The cynical part of me wonders how well these people are connected to those in local government around there. Because usually, you can't get away with crap like that, with VIDEO FOOTAGE DOCUMENTING IT, without being well-connected.

BoB said...

Glad you are feeling better, I was actually being a productive grad student without you.

rockygrace said...

That Quiverful quack is back - I don't really want to link to it, but the address is emilysbellybutton DOT blogspot DOT com.

MtnMama said...

I think you nailed it when you said that they "are all ruled by one thing - Fear." And sadly, that's a big part of my beef with religion, because it is so easy to manipulate people and feed that fear.

And after I watch shows like that I get out the cleaning products and vacuum. And eat salad.

dissed said...

Sweet holy jaysus. That is all.

Green said...

My mother was never this extreme. However. She is a control-freak, and at one point, she used to hold my jaw open with one hand while with the other, she would pour orange juice down my throat each morning before school. I would choke and OJ would dribble out of my mouth and onto my shirt, and I would go to school crying and dirty.

A few years ago when my brother and I had again teamed up to ask our mother about it she finally admitted that yes, she DID do that. Why? "I don't know ... I thought I was doing the right thing." She felt I needed vitamin C, and orange juice was the only source suitable.

I don't know what caused her to stop doing this.

rosie-b said...

CPS is so overwhelmed by kids in need and the lack of foster families that they have to let stuff like this slide most of the time. There just isn't anywhere to put the kids. I have a friend who is in her early seventies and is a foster mother. At one point she had 11 kids in her three bedroom apartment, three of which were toddlers. Most didn't stay past a week but still, that place was jam packed with kids that were just grateful to go somewhere that was safe, had enough food and an adult who took care of them.
Everyone gets so shocked at these situations and it's easy to complain. People need to actually do something, maybe even foster a kid or two.

staticwarp said...

what i dont get is, if you're a crazy fundamentalist lunatic who is petrified of the outside world, what would possess you to apply to a reality tv show like wife swap? it seems a little counterintuitve. now i'm wondering how the crazy wife fared in the normal, well adjusted san fran home.

Tracey said...

I have seen exactly one episode of Wife Swap and this was it. It still enters my minds occasionally. Those ignorant children and the "toothpaste" that was really more like accidental cheese.

Elizabeth said...

On the British TV channels, Wife Swap comes with a disclaimer that some of the scenes were essentially staged for entertainment purposes. I'd have to wonder if some of what you saw was staged.

Kore said...

The children weren't taken from the home because they weren't being abused or neglected. There is a line between protecting kids from dangerous parental behavior and intruding on families and their right to live the way that they want. I don't like the way that the raw chicken family was living - their values, standards and priorities are very different from mine. But as long as their kids aren't being beaten up or starved, then we have no right to take them away. Just think about the precedent our society would be setting by removing children from homes that aren't a narrow definition of ideal. There would be a lot of kids in foster care (which, by the way, is usually not a great place for kids).

Sure the raw chicken kids are probably going to grow up to be all kinds of fucked-up. Lots of people have messed up upbringings. You're all kinds of fucked-up because of the way that you were raised. Do you really think that you would have been better off in foster care than living with your family?

bremmer said...

Yet when they went to the doctor they were healthy. People eat raw food Sushi, steak tartar, and eggs.
It has been proven bacteria is good for you,
yogurt is good for you and yet it is the bacteria that makes it good.
What animals do you know who cook their food even man ate raw meat and fish before fire and in many culture after.
Its just some ignorant closed minded progressive types think they know what good for everyone. so every one must conform or be considered ignorant which is truly the kettle calling the pot black.

Anonymous said...

Animals have a completely different digestive system . Give your dog.a chocolate bar then get back to me.

Anonymous said...

I saw the show as well, just a week ago. I decided to Google them, after I couldn't get the episode off my mind. When I happed on this, I at first fou d it to be very entertaining, BUT, was immediately lost when you said, "mark my words......serial killler....eating humans".......really lady? NO ONE, not even Professional profilers with the FBI, Or the best psychiatrists, know exactly who and what makes a serial killer.
Anyhow, I do agree with SOME of this families beliefs. Such as, what the majority of the public does not know about what they ingest and such. They sort of have the right idea about good nutrition, but not cleanliness. For me, I associate eating healthy with cleanliness. The raw meat bit though, is unexplainable, as well as the black toilet and the emotional instability of everyone in the house, EXCEPT BARB!! Only until she realized, in the end, that she was horridly ugly and should dress better, in order for others to take her and her life style, seriously. It's going to take A WHOLE LOT MORE than the way she dresses, for that to happen!!

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