Wife Swap may have ended nearly a decade ago in 2013, but it’s never been more popular. In fact, according to Google Trends, searches for the series hit an all-time high this month. There’s essentially two reasons for this resurgence in the reality series, which debuted in 2004 and featured mothers from wildly different families switching places for a couple of weeks: 1) TikTok; and 2) the Beavers, an original Wife Swap family that’s leveraging their mid-aughts 15 minutes of fame — and penchant for crocheted crop tops — on the app.
While they provide plenty of new TikTok content, one of the Beavers most-viewed videos on the #wifeswap hashtag is of an old clip from the show. In it, the TikTok creator says, “I don’t know who this woman is, but she’s the most relatable person I’ve ever met on TV.” She is, of course, the Beaver matriarch — Amy, who is crying as she arrives at the other family’s house and sees a Confederate flag, lamenting that it represents mass murder. Soon after, she sobs over a deer head that’s mounted to the wall, lamenting that animals “are all God’s creatures.” “She was ahead of her time,” one fan comments. “She’s a sweet sensitive angel from heaven,” writes another.
Though we only see him briefly in the video, we’re also introduced to Jeff, her “environmentalist husband.” He’s a mild-mannered handyman with multiple ear piercings and terrible white-guy dreadlocks who takes on most of the household responsibilities so Amy can sleep in.
Fast-forwarding to today, we meet Amy and Jeff in their current form in the fourth most popular #wifeswap TikTok video. Jeff has lost the dreads, and both he and Amy now sport crop tops hand-made by their 27-year-old daughter, Emily, who has developed a following of more than 350,000 people on the platform, most of whom are primarily obsessed with her dad. “Your parents were years ahead of their time, and I hope they’re finally getting the respect they always deserved,” a comment with over 16,000 likes reads.
Emily first went viral in May with a video captioned, “Here’s What Happens When My Family and I Try on the Same Crop Top,” and since then, the formula of putting her parents in her knitwear has stuck. “When I first asked my dad to model my crochet as a joke, I never imagined he would get so into it,” Emily says in a video with over 1.1 million likes of her dad enthusiastically posing and dancing in a variety of tiny tops and knit shorts. “He’s found his calling and we are so grateful,” the top commenter writes.
But the obsession over Jeff extends beyond his sartorial showmanship; his fans seemingly love to see a dad just being supportive of his wife and daughter. Jeff stars as a doting husband who embraces his wife’s quirks and a supportive father who helps Emily’s TikTok (and crochet business) grow. “We need to protect him at all costs. He’s the best dad,” is a common refrain, as are comments about how often he “lets mom shine” in their TikToks together.
Honestly, the unconditional love the family shows on TikTok is a perfect tonic to the contrivance of a reality TV show that manufactured the exiling of a “crazy” wife from the family unit. In all likelihood, the Beaver family would go viral even without their Wife Swap past. Their values may have made them seem fringe on the show, but on TikTok, they’re right where they need to be.