ABC to bash Hagerstown with 'The Swap'

December 23, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

So precisely what is it that ABC television has against Washington County? It's got to be something. When, as all media outlets do, they have their 10:30 a.m. liberal bias meetings every day, they must sit around the conference table tapping their pencils on their steno pads and saying "What can we do today to stick it to the City of Hagerstown and George W. Bush?"

Last time the network was here, remember, it was Peter Jennings and his hired goons who came in to gut and fillet our Little League program all because ABC had this slanted, pre-conceived notion that it is a bad thing to disembowel umpires and to jab little Chauncy with a fireplace poker if he fails to hit to the right side of the infield with runners on first and second and less than two outs.

Now comes word that ABC wants the nation as a whole to have a good laugh at Hagerstown's expense by making it host to a new reality television show.


Hagerstown is one of the finalists for "The Swap," a show in which moms change families. I suppose we should count our blessings. Considering the, um, "ample carriage" of so many people in this area, they could just have easily named the show "Big Mother."

In the end, I personally believe the laugh may be on ABC when the ratings for this show come out. Moms changing families? Someone needs to explain to me how any organism with a sophistication level higher than barley would find this amusing.

First of all, in today's society, parents changing families - resulting as a chance romantic encounter at the local Laundromat, as a general thing - is not all that rare to begin with.

You walk in the door and say "Kids, I want you to meet your new mother" and they barely look up from the PlayStation. They might bother to learn her name or they might not, depending on how they calculate the odds of Mom IV sticking around.

So this tact probably isn't going to play too well among people for whom the novelty of musical matriarchs has long since worn off.

ABC says it chose Hagerstown as a finalist as a setting for the show because we "appear to be a tightly knit, family-oriented community."

I know how the media work, and while it sounds on its face like a compliment, among New York City TV producers "tightly knit, family-oriented" is code for "brain-dead hick."

I honestly don't get it. Because we are "family oriented," the idea of rearranged families is supposed to be funnier, somehow? We're supposed to be shocked and outraged at the very thought of this?

The potential for drama plum evades me. Like some kid is going to have five simultaneous heart attacks because New Mom uses spring-loaded clothespins, whole Old Mom uses the other kind?

Please. According to the news story, "The Swap" is supposed to "show viewers how other families live their lives, such as whether a practice that is common in one family is acceptable in another, how families share chores, spending habits and other family practices."

This sounds like "Trading Spaces" without the paint.

What, everything is supposed to come unglued by using Kellogg's Raisin Bran instead of Post?

The camera is going to zoom in on some kid's lip-quivering mug when in a voice choked with emotion he says "But, but, in this house we have always used DRAWSTRING trash bags."

To my mind, the only way this show gets any traction is if they swap Fountain Head Mom with Crack House Mom.

Crack House kids: "AAAuuughhh, who's that?"

Producer: "It's your new mother."

Crack House kids: "Our new what?"

Then the wacky chicanery continues when Fountain Head Mom returns home to discover that Crack House Mom has smoked all the after-dinner mints.

If one of the mothers is named Theresa and the other is Leona Helmsley, this may fly, but if not I suggest that for drama and controversy you'll find more on the Home Shopping Network.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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