Can't ABC just swap Niecy Nash with different celebrities for the rest of this series? I knew from from Reno 911 that she was an improv genius with immaculate comic timing, but last night was the hardest I'd laughed in a long time at someone just talking. I would like Celebrity Wife Swap maybe fifty times better if Niecy Nash was a fixture. Someone get this woman a show or get me a personality xerox machine, because I want a Niecy clone in my house at all times.
And Tina Yothers was nice too, I guess. Did we all know she was in a band/boy gang? That happened.
This episode had a very imposed city mouse/country mouse narrative that was doomed to be a success. In no way did it have the potential to devolve into a Gary Busey/Ted Haggard people circus. These ladies are both very polite, charming, non-crazy people. They came in, they respected boundaries, Tina tried hard to be insightful, Niecy was effortlessly entertaining, good times were had by all. In fact, a very good time was had by Tina, because her stint at the Nash household was essentially a vacation week. Unlike any of the homes we've seen so far, Niecy had her regularly scheduled trainer and personal stylists come in and essentially gave Tina a spa day, and then two of Niecy's friends obligingly took Tina out to lunch. That's not just good TV, it's pretty darn generous.
Tina's family followed the same patterns as most celebrity-swapped families: laughing at the new wife's discomfiture, wrangling up a no-frills family activity for maximum awkwardness, etc. Niecy again displayed a lot of generosity when it came time to implement her rules, taking the family out to dinner, treating everyone to a spa day, and whisking the whole lot of them off to a premiere. You could tell the oldest daughter in particular was having the week of her life.
The city mouse/country mouse conceit is one we are all eager to embrace, but there was a deeper narrative here, with one actress who abandoned her career and another actress who is very interested and successful in keeping it going. That's where the defensiveness in Tina kept coming from, her insistence that she somehow made a "realer" choice by leaving behind the Hollywood "phoniness." There's nothing superficial about providing for your family and managing a career in an exceptionally competitive field. While Niecy told us she'd learned from the experience to focus on her family more, I don't think her parenting skills need much fine-tuning. She's a newlywed with some fully grown and very personable kids who obviously adore her.
Niecy also conceded that she would try to encourage her kids to experience activities even if she herself didn't like them: Didn't Sarah say she wished she could do more red carpet premieres, Tina? Tina was also quick to insist everyone help Niecy's mother more, who lives in the house and handles most of the meals. Nice enough, Tina, but let's give Niecy some credit for bringing her mom into her home and making her part of the family's daily routine. Mama Nash looks like she's getting the star treatment right alongside her daughter. Where is Mama Yothers these days? Who is giving her a hand?
That said, I have to dig deep to get too miffed at Tina. Ultimately, both these families were adorable; they seem to have different but equally cozy routines, and both left the experience with positive lessons for the future. Family dinners for Niecy's family. Great! More discipline for Bobby! Seriously, do that, Tina.
Ultimately, we got to see a best-case scenario episode (if we agree the worst use of entertainment is to gape and sneer at the dysfunctional families of disconnected celebrities). The episode served as a useful platform for a talented performer to show us that she has the potential to be the next Ellen, Chelsea Handler, or Kristen Wiig. I hope showrunners across the land take heed: More Niecy Nash, please!
... Is criticizing a celebrity who works hard at her career for enjoying the perks of it kind of like getting angry at a Parisienne for eating delicious food and seeing beautiful buildings everyday?
... Is Tina Yothers a goth?
... Seriously, how easy would it be to rename this show Spouse Swap?
... What do you want to see Niecy Nash in next?