I got hooked on Wife Swap long after its original incarnation in the UK. (I admit I never knew of its origins until it was on ABC last year, and never watched it until it appeared on cable during the day. The concept of swapping wives confused me and I didn't find it interesting until I saw the way it worked.)
Long-story-short: Once I understood that families were chosen for their contrast and the mothers each spent two weeks with the other family, usually hoping to educate and reform the home into which they were placed, I was curious. Not that I would consider this show remotely related to reality, it bought home to me that there is a very wide range of behavior that fits in the realm of normal. The traded wife is required to follow the "rules" of the family as outlined for her in a notebook by the real wife for the first week, and the second week she imposes her rules on her "new" family. Almost always the first reaction of the wife upon reading her instructions is the same, "These people are insane!"
I watch Wife Swap from time to time, and did indeed view the episode featuring the Heene family whose lost balloon caused such a sensation yesterday.
The show brings us families of clowns, families of magicians, families who worship pagan gods--always pairing them with overachieving sports and academic type families, or obsessive families pursuing what they think is the American dream. It is always a wake-up call for both houses, particularly the husbands. When I saw the Heene family all I really remember is thinking, "Storm chasers? Who the hell chases storms?" On the other hand, they were far from the most unusual family I'd seen in the mix. I wish I'd been paying more attention.
I'm sure the Heene episode will get more play now that they have had the drama of the lost weather balloon or whatever it was. The nation watched in fear that one of the Heene children (a boy with the new-age name of Falcon) might be in the balloon or, worse, might have fallen from it in a horrendous accident. As it turned out, we are all relieved and now more than a little interested in what makes this particular family unit function.
For a total escape from your mundane reality, I recommend catching Wife Swap sometime around noon on cable. You never know what will turn up.