Brachas vs. bluegrass: moms make the switch

Reality shows seem to be becoming less and less real every season. Exhibit A: The very intriguing but highly unlikely pairing of a Shomer Shabbos Jewish family from Brookline, Mass. (near Boston), and a coon-huntin’ family from Olympia, Ky. (on a map that would be nowhere near a kosher grocery store), in the Oct. 20 two-hour season premiere of FOX’s “Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy.”

For the past two years, the show has been trading moms between families of vastly different demographics (i.e., pro-choice and pro-life, gays and conservative Christians). And this one is no exception.

In spite of the obvious cultural differences between the Southern Martins (mom, Sharon; dad, Dale; daughter, Ashton, 20; and son, Aaron, 17) and the East Coast Shatzes (mom, Lisa, who wears pants; dad, Michael; son, Aryeh, 20; and daughters, Esther, 17; Adina, 15; and third-grader Kayla) both families are very insulated in their respective worlds.

Lisa, an MIT-educated associate professor of electrical engineering, asks Dale, a corrections officer, what bluegrass is when told that is what the state is known for. (It’s a grass.)

Sharon, a registered nurse, goes shopping at the kosher market with Michael, a physicist, and remarks that she couldn’t understand any of the “Arabic, Hebrew, whatever” on the labels, adding, “I could give a flying flip about the kosher.”
The families, who each receive $50,000 (with a twist) for participating, have very parallel, yet opposite, living situations.

According to Lisa, Aaron spends too much time playing on the computer and hanging out and not enough time studying. She wants to call a tutor, much to the horror of Aaron, who is adamant that he’s not stupid and doesn’t need a tutor. Lisa also makes the faux pas judgment that raccoon hunting, a Martin family pastime, is “intolerable and should be outlawed” after they take her on a late-night jaunt in search of the critters.

According to Sharon, the Shatz kids are socially awkward and need to have fun. She suggests throwing a party, much to the horror of Michael, who is adamant that there be no party and no dancing (“in the Jewish religion, we don’t give our kids permission to indulge in risky behavior,” he tells her). Sharon also makes the misstep of bringing up two very taboo topics at the dinner table: dating and Jesus.

So will there be fireworks in the second hour when Grandma confronts Lisa (“Do y’all still have sacrifices?”); Sharon tries to throw the Shatz kids a party (“They’ll dance! You wait and see!”) and the two moms meet face-to-face? It doesn’t take an MIT degree to figure that answer out.

“Trading Spouses” kicks off the new season Friday, Oct. 20 from 8-10 p.m. on