Swap This, ABC!

The casting agency for U.S. TV network ABC has been trolling LEGO-themed Internet forums and spamming prominent members of the online community with the following message over the last few days:

Hello, my name is Jodi and I am a casting producer for ABC’s hit show Wife Swap. I am seeking families who are Lego or robot hobbyists for our third season. On many occasions, we feature families with unique passions/hobbies and this is one we’ve never done. Plus, AFOL’s are obviously parents who encourage creativity and that is something that other families can learn. I came across your blog and thought you or someone you know may be interested in applying. Would you be interested in posting this on your blog, or do you know anyone who would be interested in applying to be on the show?

The premise of Wife Swap is to take two different families and have the mom’s switch place to experience how another family lives for one week. Half of the week, mom lives the life of the family she is staying with. The other half, she introduces a “rule change” where she implements rules and activities that her family has. It’s a positive experience for people to not only learn, but teach other ways of life.

Families on the show receive $20,000 and anyone that refers a family that is selected to be on our show is paid $1,000 per referral. Each family should consist of two parents, at least one child between the ages of 6-17, and should reside in the U.S. and have BIG, outgoing personalities.
Please let me know if you are interested or have any questions.


The Brothers Brick got this as a comment on a recent post (on the “old” blog), and it’s been pretty much everywhere, but I thought I’d pop this up to the top of the blog and get your thoughts.

I’ll start. The thing I hate about most reality shows is that they feel exploitative. Now, I can watch “Project Runway” and enjoy it because the people on the show have all truly volunteered for what we’re seeing on TV. But I have a special problem with shows that feature children, because the parents are the ones responsible for making the decision. What kind of long-term emotional consequences does the type of notoriety gained from these shows have on children?

Another thing I despise about shows like ABC’s “Wife Swap” and its Fox clone “Trading Spouses” is that they take something quirky (or loathsome) about a family and trot it before the TV viewing audience like a freak show. I don’t think people watch these shows to truly learn about themselves or the human condition (ironically, the way we watch good, fictional dramas). I believe people watch these shows out of a voyeuristic need to feel superior to someone else.

For both of those reasons, I hope no LEGO fans choose to cooperate with ABC to create this episode. I think my hobby — just like model railroading or numismatics or spelunking — is perfectly “normal” (relatively speaking, and there certainly are some freaks among us!). I’d hate to see it treated like a freak show.

And here’s what LEGO’s Steve Witt had to say when I asked him (on the SEALUG e-mail list) whether ABC had approached The LEGO Group about this:

Just so you know, TLG is aware and we’re not really all that happy about it. Mostly because no matter how cool AFOLs might be, show’s like this will make all of us come out looking like idiots. We can’t control anyone, but I can say that I seriously hope no one pursues this. This is for the sake of our hobby more than anything else.

So, what do you think?

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3 comments on “Swap This, ABC!

  1. Benjamin

    I agree with you on the fact that this wouldn’t be good for the AFOL Community. I would not want to parade my family in front of the camera because of my hobby. I am not as prolific in building as some are in the community but I still don’t want to be stereotyped by someone that is over the top.

    Having said that I will let you know that I am part of the WAMALUG group (WAshington [DC] Metro Area Lego User Group) and we where all spamed with this as well as out sister organization PENNLUG. No one for the DC group I believe is going to pursue it but was a funny topic of conversation for a week or two. The PENNLUG group does have someone that has been in contact with ABC and is trying to get on it. I haven’t heard much beyond that but I just wanted to give you all a heads up on it.

  2. Aaron Sneary

    I am glad to see so few AFOLs interested. No, really I’m glad so few AFOL FAMILIES are interested. It kinda bothers me that reality TV enjoys mocking things like our hobby.

    But it really bothers me that this show in particular effects children. Kids need a stable home, not a camera crew and producers egging them to misbehave. The last thing a family needs these days is this kind of exploitation.

    I will not be watching the show, in protest to the exploitation of family and our hobby.

    Dad, Husband, AFOL
    Aaron Sneary

  3. Marc Nelson Jr.

    I know people are pretty upset about this show, and I can certainly understand not wanting to put yourself through that kind of hassle, but I really hope some AFOL makes it on.

    There’s no such thing as bad publicity, and if watching a TV show about an adult with a LEGO obsession brings a few thousand AFOLs “out of the closet”, than I’d say that’s a very good thing.

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