I had never seen this show, and tune-in to CMT very seldom, except to watch "Trick My Truck," or the occasional movie they have listed in which I'm interested.
A couple of weeks ago, I happened to be tuning to another channel, when I hit CMT just as one of these episodes was getting underway. After intending to pause for only a moment, I became interested, and watched the entire episode, with complete interest.
I checked and found it had originally aired in September of 2004, and was the first to vary from the usual format, with the husbands changing locales instead of the wives. (The Cooke//Levine episode.)
Both men were completely likable - Justin Levine, a successful New York City lawyer, and of Jewish heritage, traveling to rural Georgia, with chicken coops and all. His counterpart, "Jay" Clark, a blue-collar factory worker went to the Levine's high-rise, terraced apartment, with superb view - the type you find listed in "New York" Magazine WELL into seven figures.
This was a pleasant program, with Justin actually shopping in the hardware store and doing a very credible job of constructing a gate for one of the animal enclosures, and taking the wife (who preferred the local diner) to a posh Atlanta restaurant for haute cuisine.
"Jay" Cooke, as thoroughly-pleasant a man as you're likely to encounter, was understandably fascinated by the New York City digs and overall scene, and it was honestly heartwarming to observe his bonding with son Pierce, preparing for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah; there could not be a better scenario for displaying the pleasant interacting of two cultures, both religious and social/lifestyle. He was also fascinated by the frenetic, hyper wife, Beverly, a quintessential big city career woman, social butterfly, nervous about her son's upcoming ceremony (and everything else) - but somehow, being also very pleasant at the same time - no mean feat!
This was the only program in this series I'd seen, until today, when I watched another, also produced sometime ago, originally airing January, 2005. (The Lambe-Levy//Farrell episode.)
Here, Marybeth Lambe travels from the family farm in rural Washington state, and her and Mark Levy's seven children, multi-racial, with four adopted. Her counterpart, Janet Farrell, travels from Carmel, New York and her four kids, ranging from earlier teens to tattooed/pierced son, Brian, 20.
Marybeth is quiet, nurturing, early-rising, enjoying an active schedule, and even a bit of "chaos." Janet, while amazingly being such while not being highly-"unpleasant," sleeps late, her husband, Dennis, doing most of the housework (despite multiple back surgeries), an has a somewhat deluded view in assessing the positive effects her presence, requests, ideas and instructions have on those around her. If they were grading same, in her host family surroundings, she'd give herself a solid "10", while Dennis and children would likely be around, say, "4" --MAX.
The most vivid aspect of this program was Marybeth's genuine, sincere interest in Brian's art and talent, and encouraging him to pursue whatever path would come, whether body or fine art.
It was clear from his comments - both during the program and after his mother's return home - that this woman had given him more in this vein in one week than his mother had in 20 years.
When his Mom was reading Marybeth's disbursement of the their $50,000 stipend for the show (in accord with each spouse directing how his/her host family's 50-grand is to be spent) he uttered something about probably "getting a break," since Marybeth had made the disbursement decision (instead of his Mom).
From some other comments and summaries of other offerings in this series, I'd say that, by chance, the two I've seen are probably among the most pleasant and interesting in a positive manner.
I'd give it 8* based upon what I've seen - 9* for my first, and 7* the other, averaged. I think this is simply one of those shows where, instead of being a fan of virtually everything presented, one needs to watch for a bit, and then continue or switch channels, accordingly, based upon that day's particular presentation.
Just saw a third episode, several days after the above two. Some difference. From original season, the totally obnoxious, yowling, morbidly-obese "Christian" nut from Louisiana, exchanging households with the attractive, quiet spoken lady from Massachusetts - a "New Age" astrologer and radio show love Guru, whose husband held a Solstice celebration for her almost psycho counterpart. However, for me, this program was wholly fascinating, and the "New Age/astrological" fanaticism almost as nonsensical as the shrieking "Christian" histrionics --albeit at opposite ends of the spectrum. Thank God most folks are sensible enough to be somewhere between.
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