‘Moms’ on move in Magyar makeover

Maternal units to be exchanged for a week in skein

BUDAPEST — Is nothing sacred when it comes to reality TV? Apparently not in Hungary.

On March 18 RTL Media’s Hungarian flagship RTL Klub launched “Anyacsavar” (Trading Moms) in which Hungarian households of varying classes, ethnicities and size exchange moms for a week.

“Reality is still very big here,” says Cecilia Hazai, president of the Budapest-based TV distributor Twin Media, “and this show is very interesting. I think it has great potential and it shows there is a lot more room for more reality in this market.”

Developed and produced in Hungary, the premier of “Trading Moms” drew high ratings for RTL Klub, and protests from politicians and religious leaders who called the program an assault on Magyar family values.

The controversy is likely to fuel ratings in a market that embraces this genre as passionately as anywhere in the world.

Reality programming arrived in the country late, only two years ago, with the premier of a Hungarian version of “Big Brother” on RTL Klub’s rival SBS-controlled TV2.

Since then Hungary has embraced all the major reality formats, from “Survivor” to “Temptation Island,” with “Big Brother” and a similar rival format “Real World” both earning a reputation for raciness.

RTL Klub has not allowed any of the “Trading Moms” to share a bedroom with their surrogate husbands, instead offering charming portraits of well-intentioned mothers attempting to keep a new family as happy as the old.

By trading mothers between a highly affluent Hungarian and a working class Roma Gypsy households, the show also provides social commentary that digs deeper than most reality gimmicks.

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