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Reality Hits Williamsville Family Hard

Ohmygod. You have to wonder why people like the Guastaferros of Williamsville agree to humiliate themselves on reality shows like ABC's "Wife Swap."

Even when you factor in how reality shows exaggerate things in shows like this to promote the tension, the Guastaferros came across very badly.

It is hard to see which member of the family -- sexist and obnoxious dad Ralph, superficial mom Karen or spoiled rotten teen-age daughter Alicia embarrassed themselves more in the hour. I'd go with dad. He came off as the the bully that the Indiana mom who swapped places with Karen for two weeks called him.

The Indiana family didn't go unscathed, but at least its feminist mother realized after the so-called social experiment that her daughters might benefit from a balance between learning how to take care of themselves to enjoying life more.

On the other hand, the Guastasferros were every child psychologist's nightmare. They spoiled Alicia with daily presents, did her homework and didn't give her any chores. Her entire life was defined by her appearance as she prepared for beauty contests. You wondered what her teachers and her classmates thought about the show. One suspects the teachers will be looking more closely at the high school freshman's homework.

There were several ugly moments, usually when dad turned on the Indiana mom who was trying to teach Alicia that there is more to life than looking good.

At least Western New York was saved from embarrassment. The family was described as being from upstate New York rather than here.

You might have thought the Guastaferros wanted it that way to avoid the local limelight. But Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate, did a story with them on the 11 p.m. news.

The embarrassment got a big audience in Buffalo. "Wife Swap" had a 10.5 rating, the second highest program Wednesday behind two episodes of "Law & Order" (16.2).

Since so many of you watched it, what did you think of the Guastaferros method of raising their only child?

-- Alan Pergament


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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

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