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A Tale of Two Daddies – Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Daddy, August 31st


by aurora

Trading Spouses is back with a special two-hour Dad swap. FOX could not have found two more stereo-typically different families to make the switch than the Cookes and the Levines, as we’re about to find out.

Jay Cooke is a lathe operator who lives on a farm in Greensville, Georgia. His wife, Brandi, is a homemaker and mom to two sons, Hudson (9) and Cole (5). Jay says that Brandi is the one who doles out the discipline, as we see her sitting outside watching the boys beat on each other. Jay is happy to let Brandi be the decision-maker in the family, and Brandi says that she likes getting her own way. She was happy when they bought their home, because she was previously living in a trailer. She’s not thrilled with the house now though, and considers it a dump.

Justin Levine is a larger-than-life New York lawyer. Everything about Justin is big, from his physical self to his law office to his beach house. His Manhattan apartment is the biggest one in the building, with three bedrooms, a den, and other assorted perks that he gleefully points out. He’s married to Beverly, and they have two children – Pierce (13) and Molly (7). Pierce says that Beverly freaks out if things aren’t completely organized. The Levines have a hectic schedule, which results in the kids eating dinner alone most nights. Molly says that if she could change anything about her dad, it would be the late hours he spends at the office.

First We Take Manhattan

Jay is packed and ready to head off to the big city. He goes into the living room to say goodbye to his family, and is met with…well, nothing. Brandi doesn’t even get up off the couch to say goodbye, and the kids aren’t exactly motivated either. Jay tells them he’ll miss them, and Brandi comes back with “You can stay gone, I don’t care.”

He leaves the house and heads off to the airport for his first ever airplane experience. Seems Jay has never been outside of Georgia – boy is he in for a culture shock! In New York, Mrs. Levine and her kids are waiting at the airport with a sign saying simply “Mr. Cooke”, which Molly has decorated. Jay arrives, introductions are made, and they’re off to the house.

Jay marvels over the tall buildings and the crazy drivers. He says that no one in Georgia ever leans on their car horns the way they do here. They arrive at the apartment, and Jay is a little taken aback at the valet parking. He’s also impressed with the elevator ride, having never been more than one storey above ground level.

Once inside, Jay gets a tour of the apartment and is shown his room and bathroom. He’s very happy with the arrangement. Beverly, who constantly looks at her watch, tells Jay that it’s now 4:51, and they will be going out at 6:30 for dinner. She asks him what he’d like to do in the meantime – take a walk, rest, take a sauna, swim, what? Jay is uncomfortable making a decision, and asks Pierce for guidance. They decide to take a walk around and see what the apartment has to offer as Beverly rushes off to do her errands.

Pierce, who is a very responsible and sympathetic boy, guides Jay around the building, showing him the different views from the top and explaining what the buildings are. They go to see the gym, the pool, and all the other features that must make Justin very proud to be a resident. Jay is suitably impressed.

Jay and Pierce get dressed up for dinner. They’re going to Tavern on the Green, which makes Pierce happy since he likes the food there. He has trouble tying his tie, and asks Jay for help. Jay admits that he doesn’t wear ties, and if he ever does they’re of the clip-on variety. They decide to go down and ask the doorman for help.

They off to dinner, and Jay is very impressed with the restaurant. He says it’s the fanciest place he’s ever been to, but Beverly insists it’s not that nice. She doesn’t like the banquet-hall feeling. Privately Beverly says that Jay is impressed because he’s probably used to ‘all-you-can-eat buffets’.

Beverly asks Jay to choose the wine, and the poor man looks like someone asked him to choose which one of his kids he should sacrifice. This is an impossible decision for Jay, who is used to letting his wife make all the decisions. He bravely looks at the wine list as Beverly pelts him with questions. Do you want a Pinot Noir? A Cabernet? A Zinfandel? From California or France? Jay hesitantly declares he’d like a red wine.

Back at home, Molly shows Jay her loose tooth. Justin and Beverly have tried everything from brute force to bribery to get Molly to let them pull this tooth out, but Molly is afraid it will hurt. Beverly has offered Molly a new pair of shoes in exchange for the tooth, and offers to let Molly hold a pair of her designer shoes as an incentive. She says, “think shoes, think shoes” over and over again, and finally Molly tells her that it’s just silly.

Jay thinks he can get the tooth out, and Molly decides to trust him. She lays down and opens her mouth, and Jay nervously pulls the tooth out. He says, “This here tooth?” and Molly is astounded that it’s out – she didn’t feel a thing.

Meanwhile, Back on the Farm…

As Jay is adjusting to life in New York, Justin is arriving in Georgia.

He marvels at the wide open space and the dirt roads, and says that he expected to come across a quaint little house nestled away somewhere. What he finds is the Cooke residence, complete with chickens, cows, and other assorted farmyard treats.

Brandi shows Justin around, and leads him to his room. It’s one of the kids’ rooms, which hasn’t even been cleared of the clothes and toys strewn everywhere. Justin says that he’ll be sleeping on an inflatable mattress, which some people swear by. He’s just not one of those people.

Justin gets a tour of the ‘grounds’. He comes across a bird in a cage and asks what it is. “That would be a turkey”, answers Brandi. Justin is shocked – he feels he should have known that, but has only ever seen a real turkey in the supermarket before.

Dinnertime rolls around, and Justin gets to dine out as well. Brandi says that they’re taking him to her favourite restaurant. It’s a family-type place, that serves Southern fare. Justin and the Cookes are served a big basket of deep-fried catfish. Justin comments privately that he’s used to dining in places that have cloth napkins and real utensils. Hudson dares Cole to eat a catfish fin, and some bickering ensues.

The following morning, Justin is rudely awoken by the sounds of a rooster crowing. This apparently wakes up the boys as well, as Cole climbs up to see his brother in the top bunk and is greeted with a smack in the head. Cole begins to wail, and Justin gives in, saying “Okay, I’m up, I’m up!”

The City That Never Sleeps

Back in Manhattan, Jay also wakes up to unfamiliar sounds – sirens and car horns. He can’t get used to the hustle and bustle of the place, which affects him even when he’s resting in bed.

Pierce needs to practice his speech for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. Beverly has been dogging him to keep practicing, so he decides to run the speech by Jay. Jay of course doesn’t know what a Bar Mitzvah is, so Pierce explains. Jay comments, “Ah, so it’s part of your religion then.” Pierce begins his speech, and he’s doing just fine until he realizes that his mom is standing in the doorway. She cuts him off and barks comments at him. “Look up, speak loudly, stand up straight.” The poor kid gets flustered and takes off for his room, with mom hot on his heels. She wants him to take a drink of water and start again, but he’s done. Jay thinks Pierce did a fine job.

Beverly decides to take everyone to the beach house for the day, and on the way there she brags that it could be worth as much as $3 million. She says that it should be freshly painted and in great shape.

Of course, when they arrive, there are problems. The painters aren’t finished, the shutters aren’t on the windows, and the place is a mess. Beverly begins straightening, cleaning, fixing, and complaining. The kids and Jay attempt to help out, but end up getting in the way. Jay decides to take them to the beach to give Beverly a chance to cool off.

When they come back, Beverly is frantically cleaning the floors. Molly dares to walk into the kitchen to tell her mom about the beach, and Beverly freaks out. Jay tells Pierce, “Whatever you do, don’t go in the kitchen!”

They share a meal on the back porch, and Pierce has a surprise for Jay. It’s Hudson’s birthday, and Jay is upset that he’s missing it. Pierce has bought a small cake, complete with a candle, and brings it out to the table. Jay is touched by the gesture, and enjoys his first taste of authentic New York cheesecake.

Jay thinks that Beverly just needs to relax a bit and take things easy, so he decides to take her out fishing. The head down to the lake (or a pond, it was called both and I’m not familiar enough with New York to know exactly where they were) and Beverly comments that she’s never been there. They bait their hooks with corn and begin fishing. Beverly doesn’t like the pace of this activity, and wants to walk all over the place to different spots to try their luck there. She’s determined to catch a fish, but only if this can occur before her watch tells her it’s time to do something else. Jay just agrees with every suggestion Beverly makes, and concedes that his plan to get her to relax didn’t quite work.

Georgia On My Mind

Meanwhile, in Georgia, the Cookes plus Justin are off to Calloway Gardens to celebrate Hudson’s tenth birthday. There’s a swimming pool, rock climbing, and all kinds of activities for the kids. Justin comments to Brandi that the day is going well so far – neither one of the kids have drowned the other yet. He spoke too soon apparently, because Hudson and Cole begin their daily ritual of bugging the crap out of each other.

As they sit and have their lunch, Hudson whines. He whines about having to eat his sandwich before his cake, he whines about wanting to go rock climbing, and he whines about being bored. Justin takes everything in stride, although he’s clearly annoyed. Brandi says that Hudson always complains and acts put out, but she thinks he had a nice birthday anyway.

The following day, Brandi tells Justin that Jay has been meaning to fix up the chicken pen, but has never got around to it. Justin decides that he can do this, and they all head off to the hardware store. While Justin tries to figure out what size nails he needs, the kids start threatening each other with various tools, like hammers and axes. Brandi passively tells them to stop, but Justin has finally had it. He grabs boards from Hudson’s hands, and tells them to cool it.

Once in the car, Justin is still fed up. Hudson (who is sitting in the front passenger seat, delegating Justin to sit in the back with Cole) is worked up about something or other, and Justin leans forward and takes away his little electronic game. Hudson freaks out, but Justin stands firm – if the kid’s going to whack people and have a tantrum, he ain’t getting his game back. Hudson calms down just long enough for Justin to return the game, then hits his mom with it. Justin takes the game away again, as Brandi feverishly tries to get home before someone is killed.

Justin builds a new door for the chicken coop, and gets everything set up the way Brandi wants it. The family is impressed, but not as impressed as Justin himself.

Thinking of how he’s going to spend the $50,000 for the Cookes, Justin decides to go to the town hall and research property values in the area. He says that Brandi seems to want more in life, and that she’s clearly unhappy with the state of her home.

Time now for the customary “invite your family and friends over to make the new spouse look completely out of their element” feature. Brandi invites ‘the locals’ over for a barbeque, and Justin cooks up the grub. He’s very outgoing and personable, introducing himself to everyone and bragging about the new chicken pen. I think the fact that these people all build their own chicken pens too and may not find this accomplishment too impressive is lost on Justin, but he carries on trying to make things fun and lively.

Meet My Folks

While Justin is burning burgers and hot dogs on the grill, Jay is getting ready to meet the extended Levine family. They’re all coming over to hear Pierce’s Bar Mitzvah speech, so he can practice it in front of some real live people. Pierce is unsure how they will take to Jay, noting that none of them have ever met someone like him before.

Things seem to go well though, with Pierce nailing his speech and everyone congratulating him – including his mom. Pierce says that he could feel Jay rooting for him silently.

It’s now Jay’s last night with the Levines, and they order dinner in. Jay feels that this family needs to spend more time together, and that the parents need to learn how to cook. Beverly asks him if he washes his dishes at home, and he says yes, that’s the only way they’ll get clean. She’s stunned, and blurts out, “But you can get a dishwasher for like two-hundred bucks!” Jay says privately that Beverly has no understanding whatsoever of people who don’t live like she and her family do.

After dinner, Jay calls the family in to say his goodbyes. He thanks them for showing him the big city and sharing their home with him. Pierce has written a good-bye ‘rap’, which he performs for Jay. The Levine children are wonderful, caring kids – their parents should be proud of them. Hugs are shared, and Pierce tells Jay that he’s the first person who ever really listened to him.

The next morning, Beverly and Pierce are up early with Jay to walk him out to his waiting taxi. They promise to see each other again, and share more hugs. Then it’s time for Jay to head off to meet up with Justin.

Here’s Your Hat, What’s Your Hurry?

Justin decides to take Brandi out for a nice dinner on his final night in Georgia. He’s hired a limo to drive them into Atlanta for the evening. Brandi gets dressed up, but complains privately that she’s not into all this stuff.

At the restaurant, Brandi feels out of her element. Justin assures her that no one in the room would be able to tell that she has chickens at home, and she snorts, “Yeah, right!” The appetizer arrives, and Brandi asks what the white stuff is. “It’s just cheese?” she asks. Justin says yes, it’s just mozzarella, but Brandi doesn’t like it and has to eat something else to get the taste out of her mouth. She also doesn’t care for the lamb chops, which she’s never tried before. The waiter arrives with a huge chunk of meat that he carves slices from for Brandi and Justin. Brandi requests the fattiest slices, and says she likes hers burnt. She then complains that the meat is getting caught in her teeth.

Justin explains that, while this not be the way that Brandi and Jay regularly eat, it’s nice to try new things once in a while. Brandi doesn’t agree, and says she’d rather have a burger or pizza any time. Even if she had money, she wouldn’t eat in places like this. Justin keeps trying to encourage her, but she’s downright rude to him. You can see that the evening is wearing on Justin, and as they leave he throws down his napkin in frustration.

Back at the house, Justin says good-bye to the boys. They go running off to their mom, yelling “He’s leaving tomorrow! Yeah!”

The following morning Justin awakens to a silent house, and sees himself out.

Almost Home…

Jay and Justin meet for the first time, and ask each other about their families. Both men hope that their wives and kids made the other man feel welcome. Jay gushes about Molly and Pierce, while Justin is silent. The situation is a bit awkward, as Jay asks questions and Justin desperately tries to find nice things to say about Brandi and the kids, and life on the farm.

The men exchange the envelopes that contain their instructions for spending the $50,000, and say good-bye.

Back to Reality, After the Small Matter of the Cash

Jay arrives home to find his family exactly as he left them – sitting down watching television. No one gets up to greet him. He talks about how he’s glad to be home and how much he missed everyone, but no one says a word.

Meanwhile, Molly makes a “Welcome Home Daddy!” sign that she sticks on the front door. When Justin arrives, everyone rushes to hug him and tell him how much they have missed him.

Justin knows that Beverly will freak out when she discovers that Jay has decided how the money is to be spent. She had planned to put the $50,000 towards Pierce’s Bar Mitzvah. Justin explains the situation, and Beverly looks a bit uncomfortable.

Back at the farm, Jay tells Brandi that Justin has decided what they must do with their cash. He opens Justin’s letter, which thanks them for having taken him into their home. Jay offers to let Brandi read the rest, but she brushes him off. The money is divided as follows:

$7,200 for one year of schooling for the boys
$2,800 to pay off debt
$25,000 to buy their home
$15,000 to remodel the house, including an extra bedroom and bathroom

Brandi is happy with Justin’s decision, saying the only thing she would do differently is to knock the house down and start all over again.

In Manhattan, things are getting tense. Justin decides to just open the envelope and see what the damage is. Jay has spent their money like this:

$10,000 for a personal trainer for the family
$10,000 for cooking lessons for Beverly and Justin
$30,000 to be spent on the beach house

Beverly is NOT a happy camper. She says that Jay has no clue about spending that much money, and says she wants to speak to a lawyer RIGHT NOW, to discuss the situation. (Um, isn’t Justin a lawyer?) She then tells the cameras to leave.

Next week, FOX is promising the most explosive Trading Spouses yet. We get to see a clip of some guy who calls himself a chauvinist throwing a dead fly into his new spouse’s soup. Hmm, this I gotta see!

Comments are welcome! Contact me at carrie@realityshack.com.


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