Joan Rivers and Bristol Palin have agreed to change places on “Celebrity Wife Swap,” though neither one of them is a wife.
ABC made the announcement Thursday in a press release about upcoming episodes of this returning summer series that was spun off of “Wife Swap.”
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In that reality show, ordinary wives did indeed switch households for a period of time — in the process, wreaking havoc on each other’s households, husbands, children and pets. That, of course, was the whole point of the show.
Now, though, the participants on “Celebrity Wife Swap” are not apparently required to even be married. Instead, they just have to be willing to exchange households for a time. Thus, you have 80-year-old Joan Rivers and daughter Melissa Rivers, 45, agreeing to swap situations with Bristol Palin, 22, and sister Willow Palin, 19, on the season premiere (scheduled for Sunday, June 23, at 8/7c). None of these four women are married, although two of them — the two Riverses — have been married.
The announcement from ABC doesn’t delve into how a show with the word “Wife” in the title has evolved into a show in which actual wives are not participating. Our guess is, the explanation would be that the network wanted to take advantage of the “Wife Swap” brand by continuing the use of the phrase in its spinoff show. Moreover, the network probably doesn’t think viewers will be confused in any way.
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Of course, some might be confused if they tune in expecting to see actual spouses trading places. Others, though, will likely be satisfied — if not hugely entertainment — by this summer’s celebrity switches. In fact, ABC probably could have titled the show “Celebrity Switch” and it would have been just fine. And it’s worth noting that past editions of “Celebrity Wife Swap” have featured celebrity spouses — yes, celebrities who are actually married.
Meanwhile, on the season premiere of “Celebrity Wife Swap,” Joan and Melissa will be seen traveling to Wasilla, Alaska (the show was taped in May), where they’ll live in the Palin residence and take up responsibilities such as caring for Bristol’s son Tripp, 4. Bristol and Willow will be seen trying to adapt to the Rivers’ household in Malibu, where they will (supposedly) care for Melissa’s son, Cooper, 13.
This whole show is like one big reality-TV mashup: Bristol was on “Dancing With the Stars,” she had her own show called “Life’s a Tripp,” and both she and her sister were in mom Sarah’s TLC show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” Joan and Melissa — and Cooper — have all been seen in WE’s “Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best.”
There was no word on whether Joan Rivers would come face to face with Mama Grizzly herself — Sarah Palin — on her sojourn to Wasilla. Our take on that tantalizing possibility: If ABC was unable to engineer this encounter, then that has to rank as the missed opportunity of the century.