Sex in a box in front of a studio audience having failed to save American marriages, the TV industry now will attempt to rescue the institution by trying a two-week spouse switch for wedded couples. FYI has greenlighted The Seven Year Switch, an eight-episode series in which married couples “bravely” put their marriage on the line by shacking up with a “new partner” for a couple weeks. Production is underway for the series to premiere this summer.
It’s named after The Seven Year Itch, the 1955 Broadway play-turned-Billy Wilder movie starring Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell. Hopefully that will be lost on most viewers of this series because if they saw it, they’re too old to be FYI’s target audience — or any network’s for that matter.
In today’s announcement, FYI instead focused on the fact that someone at some point decided seven years marks the point in many marriages at which couples become “restless and dissatisfied” and might wonder why they’d signed up with this guy instead of the doctor their mothers wanted them to marry. In the series, four couples “at a crossroads in their relationship” — FYI did not say if they’ve all been married seven years — get the chance to shack up with a stranger for two weeks in an “experimental marriage.”
They will eat, live and, yes, “sleep” with these total strangers, the network said.
As with WE tv’s recently pulled-due-to-lousy-ratings reality series Sex Box, relationship experts will help guide the Seven Year Switch couples through the process, FYI said. At the end of what the network explains is a monthlong experiment, each of the married couples will reunite and decide whether to divorce or renew their vows.
Gena McCarthy, SVP Programming and Development at FYI, described it as an experiment to determine whether absence really does make the heart grow fonder, sidestepping the whole shacking-up-with-a-stranger part.
The Seven Year Switch is produced by Kinetic Content for FYI. Chris Coelen, Karrie Wolfe and Cat Rodriguez are executive producers for Kinetic Content. Gena McCarthy and Liz Fine serve as executive producers for FYI.
The Seven Year Switch is not FYI’s first marital-aid reality series. In July of 2014 the network unveiled Married At First Sight, in which people are paired in “scientifically” ideal matches, by experts and marry at first sight; after living together four weeks, they decide whether to divorce. The first season was so successful — thanks in part to an episode in which one of the grooms pitched his new wife to the idea of a three-way — it was moved to bigger sibling A&E for Season 2; not coincidentally it’s also produced by Kinetic.