The name of this American reality television show does not exactly make its premise overly clear. Apparently, it is common amongst marriages for there to be a ‘seven year itch’ where couples find that the initial spark of marriage has fizzled, instead being replaced with arguments, flared tempers, and general ill feeling between the couples.
Seven Year Switch then plays on this idea and proposes a switch of partners for four different couples in the hope that it will make them realise what they are wanting from their respective relationships. The show happily jumps right into the deep end, with dramatic music, over the top clichés, and glimpses of the struggles that accompany this experiment. They want us to know that this is real, and serious, not just a gimmick. Deep down, no one really believes that.
Upon introduction, each participant is given a trait so that we can instantly connect with them and know exactly what we are all about. Eric, ‘the man child’ is married to Danielle, ‘the overachiever’, while Houston, ‘the playboy’, is the husband of Aleshia, ‘the housewife’. You get the idea.
After a short run-down of problems, which range from feeling undervalued, working too much, or even cheating, the ‘experts’ play matchmaker to create four new marriages. It is all a bit long winded and over dramatic. Yes they are getting ‘new spouses’ for two weeks but some seem to think that this is for life, and that suddenly they will never be able to return to normal life. But no, it is for a fortnight. I have had eggs that have lasted longer than that.
The nerves, tears, and hyperboles are all there, ticked off a checklist that seems essential to all American reality television shows and it begins to get a bit repetitive. Yes, this is abnormal, but no, it is not going to change the world. After meeting for the first time, the couples are polite, although one of the men, Neal, is a tad overly familiar, presenting his new wife with a rose and commenting on how attractive she is. Please remember that you are not actually married to this woman Neal, you are committed to someone else.
The main issue seems to be a singular bed in their new homes, which some treat as some great Shakespearean tragedy. YOU CAN SHARE A BED WITH SOMEONE AND NOT SLEEP WITH THEM! But of course no one thinks that.
At the end of the day, this is trash TV, but not at its finest. The show struggles to really justify its purpose. What will two weeks apart really achieve? Are these couples in such dire straits that they will fall in love with someone new? Are any of these people likeable enough to make me care if it works? The answer to all these questions are a resounding ‘meh’, and the Seven Year Switch fails to ever really capture your attention because of it.
Image : Hideyuki KAMON @ Flickr