When 10 days of filming gets edited down to 20 minutes, a reality show can be anything but, says an Ashland tattoo artist and mother of two who will appear on "Wife Swap" tonight.
Mori Samel-Garloff spent 10 days as the surrogate mom of a Las Vegas family who hopes to make it big in the music biz. Her experience will air at 8 p.m. tonight on ABC Channel 12.
"It's important to know that these shows are for entertainment," Samel-Garloff says. "There were 75 tapes of each family, and each family gets about 20 minutes in an hour episode, so you can imagine a lot of it is dropped and a lot of it is not shown."
Samel-Garloff says she was contacted last year by the producers, who found her through a national tattoo directory after deciding they wanted to do an episode featuring a family in the tattoo business.
The filming took place in May 2009.
"Wife Swap" features two women from different backgrounds who trade families for up to two weeks. The first week they live each other's lives. But during the second, they get to impose their own rules.
Samel-Garloff became temporary mom for the Fulco Family, a group that performs at festivals in Las Vegas. While Samel-Garloff was in Las Vegas, Vanessa Fulco, also a mother of two, stayed with the Garloffs.
"I just wanted to be the friendly person that I normally am, and honor her children and have a good time," Samel-Garloff says.
The Garloff family includes husband John and sons Bronson, 14, an award-winning ballroom dancer, and Max, 12, an amateur filmmaker who also volunteers at a local radio station.
The Fulco family features Vanessa, who plays keyboards, her husband, Joey, who plays five instruments and once toured with Julian Lennon, daughter Joei, a vocalist and guitar player, and son Jesse, a vocalist and bass player, according to the Las Vegas Sun, which has written stories about their musical talents. Joei was 12 and Jesse was 10 when the show was filmed.
"They want their family to be this pop-singing band, and I wanted them to really learn who they were," Samel-Garloff says.
Samel-Garloff says she was disappointed when she learned Vanessa Fulco hadn't played as active a role in the Garloff family as Samel-Garloff had in the Fulco clan.
"She didn't even want to go to their performances," Samel-Garloff says. "She never once went with them to their dance classes or anything, it just was not important. I just thought she would love it, because the boys would be performing while she was here. That was sad for me."
The Garloff family previewed the episode this week and has some criticisms of the way the show was edited.
"I think they did more for the other family, I think the other family was more mainstream," says Samel-Garloff. "We did a lot of stuff over there that was not put on TV. We had a blast. We even had a tattoo party, and we celebrated diversity and individuality at it, and that wasn't shown."
Samel-Garloff says she also dislikes the way her husband is portrayed in the episode.
"My husband hasn't been working and they really elaborated on that on the show," she says. "There is nothing lazy about my husband. He used to clear brush and because his body can't do that anymore, he's been out of work."
The differences in the philosophies of each family are brought to the forefront when cameras are capturing everyday life inside two very different households.
"I'm on the air saying that my kids aren't the most important thing, and it's taken out of context," Samel-Garloff says. "My kids are really important to me, and the reason I was saying that is because I believe it's really important for me to nurture my relationship with my husband because when we have a strong relationship with each other, my children feel that, so I put my relationship with John really high on the list of what's important for our family."
Samel-Garloff tried to open the Fulco family's eyes to a different perspective, she says.
"I wanted them to think about when someone has everything and someone has nothing," she says. "That was my main reason behind the things that we did."
Despite her criticisms of the show, Samel-Garloff says she appreciates the opportunity.
"The good news is, we have our memories, we have our experience, and the experience was fabulous," she says.
Mandy Valencia is a freelance writer and videographer living in Ashland. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.