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"The Swan" Review

By Shawn McKenzie 12/19/2004

Ever since the phenomenon of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” began, there have been several knockoffs.  The most blatant one is FOX’s “The Swan,” and it feels like the low-rent version of the hit ABC show.

The concept is the same as “EM,” but with a twist:  there is a pageant at the end of the season.  Each week, two women are surprised with the “Swan” treatment, which includes working with a coach, therapist, trainer, cosmetic surgeon, and dentist to transform them from “ugly ducklings” into “swans.”  They leave their families for three months and stay in a hotel room where they are not allowed to look in a mirror during their entire stay.  After they complete their “transformations,” they are pitted against each other in a competition to qualify for the Swan Pageant at the end of the season.  In case these women didn’t have enough low self-esteem, they are judged by who is the least ugly, I guess, and that woman is crowned “The Swan.”  Amanda Byram hosts the show, and winner in the first season was Rachel Love-Fraser.

I have to admit that I hadn’t been a huge fan of “EM,” but that show grew on me.  Now I see huge differences between “EM” and “The Swan.”  First off, the women (and men) on “EM” usually have loving, supportive families.  The candidates’ husbands/wives and/or boyfriends/girlfriends love them either way.  Usually they are happy with their lives, mainly in their professions and with their families, including their children.  They do get to see a mirror, especially when they go through the style portion of the show, led by fashion stylist Sam Saboura.  The candidates just need that little extra pick-me-up to make them feel better about their outer shell (heck, I’ve even admitted to myself that I’d like an extreme makeover someday.)

As for “The Swan,” the women’s esteems are so low that I’m wondering why they think that getting the “Swan” treatment is going to help.  There is no style portion, and it doesn’t matter anyway, because most of the women end up with the same exact look, which is in a tight strapless dress and usually with long, blonde hair.  All of the women have the same exact reaction…they go to the mirror at the end of each episode, they say “Oh my God!,” cover their mouths in shock, and thank the doctors.  When they compete against the other woman that week, it is usually the younger one who wins.  The judges always have an excuse, saying that the winner was able to overcome her horrible life to win that week, but I’ve noticed that it is always the younger contestant who wins (I was proven right one week when two sisters competed against each other and the younger one won.)  The husbands/boyfriends are usually dirt bags, and they will admit to these women that this contest is the only thing that will make them love these women again.  Sure, the show has a therapist named Dr. Lynn Ianni and a “life coach” (whatever that is) named Nely Galán who actually do help these women, but if they had any real support in their family lives, they wouldn’t need those therapists!

Since “The Swan” is a competitive reality show, I almost feel obligated to watch it so I can report the results in the “reality TV news” section of my TV News page, but I feel dirty doing so.  Based on the ratings for the second season, I don’t think that we will be seeing a third one, but as long as there are women with low self-esteems who are willing to be judged like the prize pig in the county fair, maybe there will be a third go-around for this show.  If it is renewed, I may actually “forget” to watch it.


Ratings System:


Try to catch this show every week...

If a better show is on, tape this one...

If nothing else is on, maybe this will be good...

If this show is on, change the channel immediately!


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