The XX Factor

Reality Remorse

First the Balloon Boy family fiasco , now this: The reality show Wife/Swap is getting more bad press because 18-year-old Alicia Guastaferro, who appeared on the show when she was 15, is suing ABC, Disney, and RDF Media because she says producers acted “with actual malice towards [her] .” According to Courthouse News Service, Alicia says that Wife/Swap producers fed her lines to make her look “bratty” and “spoiled,” and as a result she has been humiliated and taunted at school. Alicia also says that she was not compensated for her time and that she never consented to appearing on the show. She now wants $100 million in damages.

I spoke to someone who worked on the show in the past, who says that families are well aware the show is semi-scripted before signing on. And, as this CNN article from last year notes , “from a legal standpoint, it’s not the fault of the production company if [reality show participants] … find the show to be more emotionally damaging than they ever thought it would be.”

What complicates all this is the fact that Alicia was a minor when her episode of Wife/Swap was shot. Alicia says only her mother was compensated when they both appeared on the show. It’s worth noting that her mother, Karen Guastaferro, pled guilty of a felony last year because she did not report wages . Alicia’s father, Ralph, pled guilty of money laundering last year as well . If her mother signed a contract on Alicia’s behalf, one wonders if Alicia should be suing her mother for withholding compensation-not ABC/Disney. The timing of this suit is also curious, as it is mere months after both her parents pled guilty to felonies with hefty fines. “Their finances are poor at the present time,” Karen’s lawyer told the court in November, according to The Buffalo News .

Potential familial grifting aside, boy, were Alicia’s brattiness and entitlement pretty epic. In the clip below, Alicia says things like , “I do feel sorry for people that are not gorgeous people.” She also berates her mother for serving her the wrong kind of cereal. Don’t miss the hilarious script concerning the other family the Guastaferro’s are swapping with - the Boss family. ” Ultra-feminist Angie homeschools her daughters so she can indoctrinate them with her feminist agenda,” says the condescending voice-over. Wife/Swap might not be a reflection of “reality,” but it sure is entertaining.